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FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme 2017-18 takes off! - 28/09/17

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Expedition’s Andrew and Tim were delighted to attend the launch of FLUID Mentoring at the RIBA last night. Having provided both mentors and mentees to the programme over the years, Expedition are proud to be sponsors.

Rosanna Bortoli of Built By Us tells us more about the programme:

“The 2017-18 FLUID Diversity Mentoring programme, now in its fifth year, got off to a strong start at its recent launch at the RIBA in London, with many new and returning mentors and prospective mentee candidates, attended the event to hear about the experiences of past participants on both sides of the mentoring programme.

FLUID is a scheme to address retention and development of talented practitioners in the built environment which first began, back in 2012. The programme is designed to support built environment practitioners from diverse backgrounds over a period of 12 months, and runs on a one-to-one developmental model with volunteer mentors and mentee applicants, recruited and paired from across all levels and all professional disciplines. It particularly seeks to support and encourage those under-represented in the professional and managerial disciplines including women, BME and LGBT practitioners, and professionals with disabilities and those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Katy Ghahremani, co-chair of Architects for Change (AfC) and Director at Make Architects, in her Keynote Address reported on data gathered by AfC and applauded the improvement in the number of women entering the profession at degree level, which has risen from 34% to 50%. However, she went on to highlight the need for on-going support to prevent drop-off, as well as the lack of change in qualification at Part 3 which remained static at 11% for women.

Ms Ghahremani called on members of the construction industry to go into schools and provide careers advisors with information on the enormous array of opportunities that the industry has to offer, whilst also highlighting that the predisposition to provide work and summer placements for family members or friends was not helpful in creating a diverse workplace. She concluded her address by saying “It is a privilege to be involved with FLUID at a time when so many industries are looking to become more transparent, more diverse and more inclusive. FLUID aims to make a positive difference to the way we work in the built environment and it is proving to be a great way to break down the silos between the disciplines by providing each of the professions with an opportunity to talk to each other in a different space”.

This was followed by testimonials from FLUID participants: Yemi Aladerun, architect, quoted Bob Dylan – “the highest form of art is to inspire” – and she went on to express just what a positive experience the FLUID mentoring process has been for her, a view which was endorsed by Richard Brindley, consultant, who has been a mentor for two years, “I feel I gain much more than I give”. Sarah Shuttleworth who has worked as an architect in Africa, China and America said she has faced challenging situations and needed external support which she received from her older, non-architect mentor whom she described as “a perfect match”. This theme was picked up by Tara Gbolade, Associate at RG&P, who said a different perspective was “invaluable”.

Over five years the FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme has assisted over 100 mentees from the UK and from places as far afield as New York, Hong Kong, Dubai and Australia.

Applications to be a FLUID mentee have now closed for 207-18 and the interview process which precedes the pairings of mentors with mentees is currently underway.

Danna Walker, Founder of Built By Us, the social enterprise which is facilitating the FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme going forward said of the launch “This programme proves that we can all do something to improve diversity in our industry. I am delighted by the success of the FLUID programme over the last five years, none of which could have happened without the generosity of our mentors. It never fails to amaze me to see the calibre of the professionals who put themselves forward voluntarily to fill these roles and help those coming up the career ladder behind them. This is collaboration in its truest sense. I’d also like to thank our sponsors Make Architects and EPR Architects whose significant financial contribution together with that of Expedition Engineering have made it possible for the FLUID programme to continue to be inclusive and accessible. Sponsorship opportunities are available all year round and FLUID welcomes offers of support to the programme.”


Katy Ghahremani