Equity above all else

A statement from Neil Squibbs, CEO, Buro Happold

George Floyd’s death and the events of the past two weeks have affected us all. Highlighting injustices that have existed for far too long.  For many, it has been overwhelming.  For all of us, it has been the catalyst for recognising we have a duty to go beyond calling out prejudice and discrimination and more proactively acting against it. 

I lead an organisation that strives to be inclusive, regardless of gender identity, sexuality, disability, race or ethnicity. But I now realise that is not always enough.  What the reaction to George Floyd’s death has shown me is that we need to move from being a business that does not tolerate racism to one that is actively anti-racist. I cannot pretend to have ever suffered discrimination in the way that so many of our black people and people of colour have experienced but I stand in solidarity.

As an organisation with a culture rooted in the Quaker principles of our founder, the Buro Happold approach has always been to solve problems through discussion and consensus.  We listen to our people, consider their views and translate them into the policies by which we run our business.  Never has this been more important.

Over the coming days, I, we, will listen to all sectors of our community and use the opinions and experiences that are shared to inform and shape our response.  Education affects change and we must all now learn what influences our behaviour and challenge ourselves to change.  But this cannot happen overnight; I want to take time to reflect and consider how we move forward because whatever steps we take as a result of this have to be the right steps. We need to ensure that in our dealings with each other, our clients, collaborators and our work, we focus on equity at all levels – climate, social and racial justice – as they are inextricably linked.

Change must be the result of the strong public movement we have experienced. It has been a call to action for all of us and we must take action.  As an organisation, Buro Happold will listen, educate and inform.  We will work together to develop and strengthen our policies, change our behaviours and drive change wherever we have influence.

This is the beginning of a journey and we expect to report on actions and progress as this becomes appropriate. Racial equity and social justice, sitting alongside climate equity, need to take a more prominent position in all our duties.

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