A Call-to-Action from Our Black Colleagues

On June 3rd, 2020, our Black colleagues shared the following letter with the SOM community:

Dear SOM,

Your Black colleagues are saddened and conflicted as we continue to live in fear witnessing the senseless deaths of our people. We wish to emphasize that the reaction of the Black community is a direct, traumatic response to 400 years of outward and systemic racism. We are not OK.

As Black architects and members of the SOM collective, we want to make it clear that we are directly impacted by the injustice, police brutality, and violence against our community & families. This, while simultaneously experiencing disproportionate Covid19 infections & deaths. These burdens are carried with us daily. However, we continue to maintain our professionalism and our commitments to our projects and global teams. It is our human right to freedom, a fair judicial, economic and educational system.

We all will be impacted by these events and we need to be part of the change. While no words can adequately describe the anger and hurt that we as design professionals feel today, we felt that silence is simply unacceptable. We ask that SOM leverage its position of privilege, as a leading practice, to be committed to social justice, eradicating systems of oppression within the built environment, our office culture and our industry settings at large. We are more than a quota, we are more than a percentage, we are an integral piece of this firm.

In unison, we come to you with our CALL-TO-ACTION:

  • Fight systemic racism within SOM and the AEC industry
  • Confront discriminatory policies and persons
  • Expand Practice to include high-IMPACT projects that combat social injustice and inequity in communities of color
  • Create a safe space for our SOM Black community
  • Increase MINORITY representation at all levels of leadership within SOM
  • Promote Black Excellence through mentorship and career advancement
  • Evolve from “Diversity” to Equity and Social Justice


Since receiving this letter, SOM staff and leadership have spent time listening and learning, reflecting on our company’s priorities, design practices, and internal policies. The result is our 34-point plan, developed through a collaborative grassroots effort with our colleagues and representatives from the National Organization of Minority Architects. Through this plan, we intend to pave the way toward a more just, transparent, and inclusive industry, starting with our own culture and practices.

Learn more about the plan here.