Women in Construction: Charting a Path for the Future

Finegold Alexander Leadership

ARTICLE | Published in High Profile

Finegold Alexander Architects, founded in 1962, is a highly respected Boston based design firm. In 2017, four long-time Principals Ellen Anselone, Rebecca Berry, Jeffrey Garriga and Regan Shields Ives became majority shareholders, and assumed leadership of the firm. In 2018, Finegold Alexander was certified as a Women Business Enterprise. “Together, we are forging a new vision for the future – one that not only is focused on excellent design, but also on promoting the individual voices and abilities of our staff with a commitment to diversity within the firm,” said Ellen Anselone, principal and vice president of the firm.

“To achieve this, we have a broad approach to recruiting, engagement, and mentorship, allowing individuals to be their whole selves within the organization,” said Rebecca Berry, principal and president. “Our ongoing efforts include seeking candidates from diverse backgrounds and from a breadth of schools – leading to multiple approaches to design.”

Regan Shields Ives notes that the firm is “following the research of Equity by Design (EQxD) (www.eqxdesign.com) and we have developed policies and practices that promote individual engagement and enable all staff to raise families, pursue individual and community interests, and to thrive economically.”

In-house practices to promote equity and diversity at Finegold Alexander include:
1. In-House Mentoring Program
2. Paid Parental Leave Policy for all Employees
3. Schedule Flexibility
4. Firm teams led by Associates and staff to evolve the practice in Sustainability, Design Process, Production Process, and BIM/IT.
5. All-office Friday Presentations where we gather as a community and conduct design review of projects in progress, to transmit knowledge in critical areas – giving all the ability to be heard.
6. Volunteering and Community Giving – Annually, all staff members receive four hours per year of paid time for volunteering, the firm hosts a major volunteering effort, and we make annual charitable contributions to organizations that align with our values.
7. Rebecca Berry and Regan Shields Ives serve as mentors in the Women Principals Group mid-career mentorship program, providing support, advice and sponsorship to women in the design profession outside the firm.

Rebecca Berry notes: “The composition of the architectural profession is still overwhelmingly white and male. While the demographics of architecture programs and younger members of the profession are shifting, we feel those already practicing can do more to influence the pipeline into the profession and early engagement is essential.”

To this end Finegold Alexander participates in Design Thinking Day and a paid summer internship program. The programs – sponsored by the BSA Foundation and the Boston Private Industry Council – brings Boston’s public high school students to participating firms for a day of exploration with the option of doing an internship. Our staff lead activities for Design Thinking Day and as a continuation of the program, FA has hosted two summer interns, both dynamic, young women of color.

“We still have work to do to improve the participation and leadership of women and other people who are under-represented in the architectural profession” notes Ellen Anselone, “and our firm is actively making progress through our internal and external programs and the individual commitments of our leadership.”