July 10, 2009
 
The Etiquette of Discussing Race and Culture in the Firm: How to Talk the Talk So You Can Walk the Walk

by Russell Boniface
Associate Editor

Summary: Louis Smith speaks to AIArchitect Contributing Editor Michael J. Crosbie, AIA, on how to constructively discuss race and culture within architecture firms.


In this week’s podcast, “The Etiquette of Discussing Race and Culture in the Firm: How to Talk the Talk So You Can Walk the Walk,” Louis Smith.
speaks on practices that management can use to address cultural differences in the office that won’t create anger or dissention.

Smith says that cultural differences in an office can affect how people work together. If staff doesn’t work well together well, he says, cultural differences may be a factor because people may not see or approach things the same way.

The first step for management, Smith says, is to recognize, that there are differences. Smith says it can be harmful to address a co-worker in terms of devaluing who they are and what they bring to the table. The reason for addressing diversity, he says, is to become more profitable by reducing errors, increase productivity, and have people work together more effectively. The way people differ can be put to good use by the firm, he says, and the firm with cultural efficiency seeks out cultural differences.

 
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Louis Smith, AIA, NOMA, is principal of Microtecture in Charlotte, N.C. In addition, he has worked in government and education. Smith also served as 2007 Advisory Group chair of the AIA’s Small Project Practitioner’s knowledge community.