Help to end all forms of discrimination in architecture!

by Elsie Owusu OBE RIBA

Help to end all forms of discrimination in architecture!

by Elsie Owusu OBE RIBA
Elsie Owusu OBE RIBA
Case Owner
I am a black female architect, a National member of RIBA’s governing council and founding chair of the Society of Black Architects.
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Elsie Owusu OBE RIBA
Case Owner
I am a black female architect, a National member of RIBA’s governing council and founding chair of the Society of Black Architects.
Pledge now

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Latest: Nov. 4, 2019

A date for judge-led mediation!

  1. Thanks a million all to all my lovely supporters for exceeding the original target. Now, please  help with legal fees for mediation hearing to settle the case.  In 2013, RIBA Council...

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Please help with legal fees to fight my Employment Tribunal (ET) claim against the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for race and sex discrimination and victimisation and to resist RIBA’s retaliatory complaints against me.

Under its 185 year old royal charter RIBA is the main governing body for architectural practice and education in the UK. I aim to raise awareness of the need for British architecture to change in terms of diversity, discrimination, and to give everyone - no matter their sexuality, gender, race, background, or accent - the chance to succeed on their merits. 

Design Council statistics show that “diversity in architecture have not shifted at all. It was 94% white in 2015 and the same in 2018. Architects are 80% male, compared to 53% in the general working population”. Architecture involves a minimum seven years of expensive training -with five years academic study and two years of work experience. Statistics show that female students and architects from BAME backgrounds face discrimination and exclusion, throughout their long training. The BAME failure rate is 90% plus from 1st year to the final exams (Year 7). Unemployment among BAME and women architects is high. 

I am a black female architect, a National member of RIBA’s governing council and founding chair of the Society of Black Architects. I was co-lead architect on the designs of London Green Park Station and the UK Supreme Court. In 2003 I was awarded the OBE by the Queen for services to architecture. For 33 years of my professional life I have campaigned for more equality, inclusion, and diversity. In 2017 I initiated the RIBA+25 campaign, resulting in nine young BAME architects being elected to RIBA Council. I was runner up in the election for RIBA president in 2018 with a campaign based on an urgent call to end all forms of discrimination in the architectural profession, making RIBA transparent and accountable to its membership and students. 

The ET claim is over my removal by email on 15 October 2018 from chair of Architects for Change (AfC), a RIBA Working Group tasked with improving diversity in the profession. 

My removal was because I refused to exclude two other black women council members from an AfC meeting to select new members for its Advisory Panel. It followed a period of discrimination, bullying and harassment. 

Because of my ET claim RIBA produced an anonymous complaint that I have broken its Code of Professional Conduct by speaking out. This could result in my expulsion and severely affect my professional life and personal reputation. 

Architecture affects all our lives and our environment. In order to create a safe, sustainable and peaceful society, it is important that all architects can contribute to the creation of the built environment, regardless of gender, ethnicity or social background. 

Fighting this tribunal is one bold step against discrimination and towards fairness in British architecture.

It is now scheduled for seven days of hearings in June and October 2019 and the complaint will be going through the RIBA disciplinary process during the coming months. 

Your donations will help pay my legal costs. 

Update 1

Elsie Owusu OBE RIBA

Nov. 4, 2019

A date for judge-led mediation!

  1. Thanks a million all to all my lovely supporters for exceeding the original target. Now, please  help with legal fees for mediation hearing to settle the case.  In 2013, RIBA Council passed a resolution on equality, inclusion and diversity by an overwhelming majority, to work the Law Society, the Bar Council and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The resolution wasn’t implemented and stats show discrimination has worsened. From the mediation we want the Court to order that RIBA complies fully with the 2013 resolution, as well as the Equality Act 2010 - benefiting students, members and staff. A positive action programme for equality, inclusion and diversity in UK architecture! 


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