Global architecture, design and planning firm HLW has announced its achievement of The International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Just 2.0 Label, becoming one of only 177 companies and one of the few architecture firms of its size and reach to obtain the label. Developed as a way for organizations to evaluate themselves through a social justice and equity lens for the betterment and sustainability of people, product, and the planet, the achievement recognizes HLW's ongoing commitment to cultivating a people-first work environment that celebrates diversity, champions equity, and promotes inclusivity.
"Over the last few years, we have spent considerable time looking inward, reflecting on the focus of HLW's practice and the environment we have cultivated here," said Susan Boyle, Managing Partner. "As a practice, we are steadfast in the belief that we can drive change in our communities and make a meaningful impact on our world; aligning with the Just program has allowed us to advance that mission at greater depth."
A nearly two-year-long endeavor, HLW's pursuit of the Just 2.0 Label establishes a framework for recentering the firm's culture around transparency, responsibility, and social justice. This effort was spearheaded by BEYOND, the firm's internal sustainability, resilience, and building performance consultancy led by Global Director of Sustainability and Wellness Jonce Walker, in close collaboration with Project Manager Stephanie Haedrich. Serving as a nutrition label for the firm's "performance" along a series of targeted metrics, the Just framework also provides a platform for continued introspection, evaluation, and improvement.
"We knew from the beginning that our pursuit of the Just 2.0 Label would define our organization for the future, from policies and practices to the expectations we have set and commitments we have made," said Walker. "Empowered by HLW's willingness to be transparent about often-times difficult subjects, we took great time and care in this process and have been humbled by our achievements."
Initial certification surveys 22 key "performance indicators" across six categories, including: Diversity & Inclusion, Equity, Employee Health, Employee Benefits, Stewardship, and Purchasing & Supply Chain. Each indicator is broken down into a four-tier grading scale, which assesses where the organization falls once satisfying the baseline threshold. Rather than self-selecting its benchmarks, HLW reported on all 22 indicators––in many cases, far surpassing the minimum requirements. Among its strongest categories: Gender Diversity, Engagement, Pay-Scale Equity, Physical Health, Training/Education, and Charitable Giving.
The rubric also established measurable opportunities for performance improvement across a handful of indicators, reporting on which will be required as HLW commits to recertifying every two years. The firm has already made internal adjustments, using the framework to inform new initiatives and strategies, with more planned in the coming months under the purview of Anjali Mathai, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at HLW.
"We could not be prouder of the considerable strides HLW has made in becoming a more transparent and just organization, and we are thrilled at the opportunity to highlight the hard work being done here; but this is only the beginning," said Mathai. "We recognize the consideration, time, and effort that is required to sustain equity, particularly on a global scale, but we are committed to fostering a purpose and action-driven environment as we look to what's next.”
For more on HLW and its projects and people, visit www.hlw.design.