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CHANGE requires action not words

Machel Bogues is Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Manager at the RTPI

This year’s Black History Month theme was “a time for action, not words”. This is a sentiment that underpins the RTPI’s CHANGE action plan, where the goal is to ensure the planning profession is as diverse as the communities it represents. We set out to act inclusively, treating everyone fairly and providing a culture which delivers the best outcomes for the diverse society in which and for whom we work.

Now is a good opportunity to review the actions that we have taken so far, what we have done and also crucially, what more we need to do. 

Pathway to planning

The RTPI was proud to support the premier of BAME Planners Network’s film “Pathway to Planning”, which was launched during Black History Month. The film explored the impact of Tomorrows Planners’ PATH Programme some twenty years on.

In the film, we heard about the challenges of not only attracting diverse talent into the planning profession but keeping them. In particular, the film highlighted challenges around progression.

Creating a diverse profession

Attracting and sustaining diverse talent in the profession are two critical areas that the RTPI is tackling head-on.

In 2022, we launched our inaugural work experience programme EXPLORE. Over the course of the year, we’ve seen 100 young people across the country given the chance to explore the planning profession. Of those, 93% said that they would now consider a career in planning – up from 38% at the start of the programme.

This is unquestionably a great result and clearly demonstrates that we can, with good quality interventions, affect, positively, young people’s ideas about the profession.

We know that for programmes like EXPLORE to be successful they need to be given time, with impacts felt beyond the moment in which they are delivered. We are already looking not only at how we can continue to deliver work experience but how we can engage with young diverse talent beyond those that go on work experience. 

Building inclusive culture

Of course, entry into the profession, whilst important, is only part of the problem. We also have to create an environment in which all talent can flourish. To that end, we have recently launched our Inclusive Framework through which we can work with employers across the profession to create that environment. Through this scheme we are working with employers not only on recruitment but also on retention. 

Alongside our friends, Chartered Institute of the Building, Institute of Civil Engineers, Landscape Institute, Royal Institute of British Architects and Royal Institutes of Chartered Surveyors, we will be working to create a clearer understanding of the transition from education into employment and then developing interventions accordingly. 

CHANGE for the future

However, we must also be able to demonstrate and measure success. The single best way to do this is by collecting accurate data from our members.

The first step we have taken to achieve this is by singing a Memorandum of Understanding with CIOB, ICE, LI, RICS and RIBA. Members will therefore begin to see a change in the way we ask for personal information in 2023. By taking step to change our understanding of our members, we will gain a better picture of the sector as a whole and understand where more action is needed. 

Now is the time for action, but those actions must be coordinated, complementary, and achieved through collaboration. That is the approach RTPI is taking. We look forward to continuing to work with the BAME Planners Network and our fellow MoU signatories to deliver CHANGE. 

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