The D Word… Achieving greater Diversity in Iceni and our wider professions

06 Jul 22

To help begin to correct this imbalance, Iceni are working with the RTPI as part of the organisation’s ‘EXPLORE programme’, which aims to encourage young people from underrepresented groups to become Chartered Town Planners.

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The lack of diversity within the planning profession and the wider built environment sector is a problem that falls on all of us to collectively address. Put simply, the current situation is not right.

In acknowledgement of this, professional bodies including the RTPI, RIBA and RICS have recently signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to create a ‘more diverse, equitable and inclusive sector’.

To help begin to correct this imbalance, Iceni are working with the RTPI as part of the organisation’s ‘EXPLORE programme’, which aims to encourage young people from underrepresented groups to become Chartered Town Planners.

Last week, we welcomed five young women, who are presently in the midst of their Sixth Form studies, to our London office to give them a flavour of what we, Iceni, do on a day-to-day basis. At the end of the week, we asked them what they thought the barriers to becoming a planner were, and awareness and accessibility were the two key issues they identified.

Interestingly, they confessed to having previously assumed a ‘planner’ was just another word for a developer, rather than someone with a specific skill or career. They also viewed the career trajectory as more or less fixed – Geography BA, to Urban Studies MA, to Planner (or something to that affect), rightly suggesting the need for more apprenticeships to make it more accessible, especially with rising university costs.

We need to improve the visibility of the profession within the media generally and within hard-to-reach communities, especially at a young age. As it stands, only 4% of the RTPI are classified as BAME, suggesting we need to be doing more to consciously and pro-actively create routes into the industry for young people from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds.

Our long-term goal, as part of our Business Plan to 2026, is to significantly increasing our own diversity. Whilst we thoroughly enjoyed this week, we hope it is just the start, and that one day we might be working with some of these students.

If you would like to know more about the EXPLORE programme and our ongoing work with RTPI, feel free to send me email npellegram@iceniprojects.com as I would be happy to provide more information.

Nick Pellegram Assistant Planner,Planning