Planning institute embarks on 10-year mission to increase diversity and inclusion

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THE new president of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has launched a new 10-year action plan to make the planning profession more diverse and inclusive.

It follows the launch, last month, of the RTPI’s new Corporate Strategy 2020-2030, which sees Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity as one of four integrated Pillars.

“The RTPI is committed to working with members to continue to promote a diverse and inclusive profession at all levels,” said Sue Manns, who became president on 22 January this year.

The RTPI commissioned specialist diversity and inclusion consultancy Brook Graham to look at how the planning profession currently performs, and to identify a series of bespoke actions that could be taken forward to achieve this commitment.

It found that whilst the RTPI performs ‘above average’ in terms of equality, diversity and inclusivity, when compared to others in the built environment sector, there is still much work to do.

Manns launched the action plan ahead of delivering a lecture on equality, diversity and inclusivity at the University of Birmingham.

“For us to be an effective and sustainable profession, we must be genuinely representative of the society in which we work,” she said. “This includes recognising and addressing the need for broader visibility of diversity at all levels of the profession, from entry to the most senior.

“We need to be accessible and inclusive, adaptable to change and proactive in our support for members, wherever they may be.

“The action plan – CHANGE – has been developed to help guide both members and employers as they work to achieve a more balanced profession. This bespoke action plan represents the means for the profession to achieve this.”

Stuart Affleck, director of Brook Graham, said: “In a summary of research studies published in 2018, Deloitte stated that organisations with diverse and inclusive cultures are twice as likely to exceed financial targets, three times more likely to be high performing and six times more likely to be innovative.

“At Brook Graham we define diversity as all the ways in which we differ: age, gender, skin-colour and physical appearance as well as underlying, invisible differences such as thinking styles, nationality, values, education and sexuality. Inclusion is about creating a workplace where differences are authentically valued, where people feel involved, respected connected and where the richness of talents, ideas, backgrounds, perspectives and skills are harnessed to create business value.”

According to the RTPI’s UK Planning Profession 2019 study, membership is currently 61% male, 39% female and 6% BAME. Across planning schools and new entrants to the profession there is generally a 50:50 split between men and women. Student membership is growing rapidly, especially across BAME groups.



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