At Lemay, we believe everyone has a right to dignity, respect, and equality. Realizing this takes change, and change depends on the actions we take.
In order to create meaningful space to grow, the space we design must help everyone thrive and flourish. All built environments begin with people.
Space with positive impacts and lasting changes leads to a better world, but this needs recognition and respect for what makes each of us unique. Space should provide everyone with equal opportunities and be a restorative and reparative resource to oppose histories of injustice, violence, colonization, and trauma with actions.
This begins with us: The design industry must recognize and create space for the essential contributions of women, Indigenous peoples, visible minorities, ethnic minorities, LGBTQIA2S+ communities, people with disabilities, and the numerous and diverse members of our industry that exist at the intersections of these identities.
Design works best when all voices are involved, which is why Lemay is committed to making equity, diversity, inclusion and justice (EDIJ) part of the work we do.
Creating a more equitable, diverse, inclusive, and just place together.
Internally, we’ve begun with organizing an open forum to share stories, ideas and perspectives in a safe and inclusive space.
Workgroups of team members at Lemay regularly meet to tackle initiatives to improve our EDIJ policies. Using the results of a firm-wide survey that invited all employees to share their opinions about this initiative, the group focuses on four areas of ongoing improvement:
- Career development support without bias
- Fair management
- An inclusive work culture
- Creating an environment free from any form of harassment
As this feedback continues, we prioritize anonymity so employees may safely share perspectives and propose alternatives to a malleable policy.
This is a journey, not a destination. More initiatives will be added; there is no endpoint of our EDIJ work, an ongoing commitment to be a better company, overcome past biases, and root out the systemic injustices that permeate the design industry.
Engaging with Communities and Citizen Participation
Space becomes place when we find meaning in it, but place only has meaning when it puts its people first.
This requires a proactive, equitable, and justice-oriented engagement process informed by those historically excluded from design processes.
When communities directly influence the designs that affect them, places can be shaped into ones of empowerment. That’s why engaging communities and building relationships is so vital to the work we do.
If we follow preconceived notions of a place’s community, that can only lead to preconceived results. Our aim is not to merely include communities in the decision-making behind our designs, but to truly co-author them and remove barriers between designers and users.
Learn more about our work in citizen participation and people-first designs here and read Lemay’s Public Participation Charter here.
Collaborating with Indigenous Peoples for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation
We have a responsibility to take the first step, acknowledge truths, and reconcile the past with care, respect, and humility.
As designers, we must meaningfully engage and collaborate with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to understand what truth, reconciliation, indigenization and decolonization are to work towards a reparative future. By listening and learning, we can make daily efforts to make a difference.
To support truth and reconciliation from a design perspective, we create space inside and outside of Lemay that promotes cultural awareness and belonging, education through visibility, and diverse community-building.
We can begin with 16 ways to support Indigenous Communities and take tangible actions towards healing by promoting Indigenous architectural identities in our built environment.
Designing for Diversity
Designing for EDIJ is designing with all disciplines working together for everyone.
At Lemay, transdisciplinarity is a key pillar of our work, where diverse specializations collectively identify issues that any one individual would have missed. We extend that philosophy to the diversity of our practice.
All research and design at Lemay begins with interwoven and divergent community needs, a spectrum of lived experiences to identify biases and privileges and root out exclusion and alienation; that’s how we approach removing them with our clients, teams and those our work impacts.
Design can be a form of advocacy for positive change. We believe we have a responsibility as designers to investigate and create space informed by hard and often uncomfortable lessons from the past and present. This work is critical to ensure what we do leads to a brighter future for all.