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March 2024




What is Psychological Safety? 

Celebrating Womens History Month we welcome to the table our guest author Karen Taylor-Liggins, MA, LLM, SPHR, Executive Director of the St. Louis AIA Chapter. (see Ms Taylor-Liggins highly respected credentials below) Each day everyone of us faces many varied forms of JEDI issues in our professional and possibly personal lives, too. Certainly the A/E/LA/C community has been engaging in studies, research, education, discussions and implementation of initiatives to foster, achieve, and maintain healthy environments. We are honored to host and feature a three part series of guest articles promoting Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.   

In the dynamic and ever-evolving field of architecture, fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is not just a moral imperative but a professional necessity. Architects shape the spaces where people live, work and play, influencing communities and cultures. Psychological safety, a cornerstone of DEI, plays a pivotal role in shaping these relationships. In this first part of our three part series, we explore what psychological safety looks like when working with clients and within architecture firms and why it matters. 
Psychological safety refers to an environment where individuals feel safe to express themselves, take risks and contribute without fear of reprisal or judgement. In the architectural context, this translates to a workplace culture where diverse perspectives are not only welcomed but encouraged. 
One of the primary reasons psychological safety is crucial in any organization but especially within the architectural environment is its direct impact on innovation and creativity. Architecture thrives on collaboration and innovation, with teams working together to solve complex problems and envision groundbreaking designs. When individuals feel psychologically safe, they are more likely to share their ideas openly, leading to richer discussions and more innovative solutions. 
Moreover, psychological safety fosters a sense of belonging and inclusion within the profession that is often missing, especially for marginalized individuals. This is imperative as the profession seeks to attract more minorities and women to its ranks through the next generation of future architects. In an industry historically dominated by certain demographics, creating an inclusive environment is essential for attracting and retaining diverse talent. When professionals feel valued and respected for their unique perspectives and contributions, they are more likely to stay engaged and fulfilled in their careers, the same premise holds true for young and emerging professionals. 
Another critical aspect of psychological safety in architecture is its influence on mental health and well-being. The demanding nature of architectural work, with tight deadlines and high stakes projects, can take a toll on individuals' mental health. Research has shown that mindfulness-based practices supported by leadership is one example that fosters a culture of psychological safety, and can mitigate stress and anxiety, while promoting employee well-being and productivity. 
Building psychological safety within the architecture profession requires intentional effort and commitment from all stakeholders, including firm leaders, managers, individual architects. Leaders must set the tone by prioritizing DEI initiatives and creating policies that promote inclusivity and respect. The leadership stake with respect to psychological safe environments is to mitigate risk and maintain integrity. Managers play a crucial role in fostering open communication and addressing any issues that may arise within teams. At the same time, architects must actively contribute to cultivating a culture of psychological safety by listening to diverse perspectives, providing constructive feedback, and supporting their colleagues. 
Two key ways psychological safety within architecture firms is shaped is through open communication channels and constructive feedback culture. With open communication, dialogue flows freely, whether its during brainstorming sessions, team meetings, or one on one discussions with supervisors. Again, it is leadership that sets the tone for diverse perspectives to engage in the communication. A culture of constructive feedback facilitates professional growth and development but also strengthens team cohesion and trust. 
When working with clients psychological safety involves creating collaborative partnerships where clients feel valued and respected as integral members of the design process. This process may involve conducting thorough client interviews, actively listening to their feedback, and incorporating their input into the design process. By fostering a sense of partnership and mutual respect, architects can create spaces that truly reflect the needs and aspirations of their clients. Transparency also fosters trust and confidence in the architect-client relationship, ensuring that clients feel informed and involved throughout the design and construction phases. 
In conclusion, psychological safety is essential not only within architecture firms but also interactions with clients. By fostering open communication, constructive feedback cultures, and collaborative partnerships, architects can create environments where diverse perspectives are valued, and innovation thrives. Stay tuned for the second part of our series, where we will explore the concept of cultural humility in architecture design and its role in advancing DEI within the profession. 
About the guest author:  Karen Taylor-Liggins MA, LLM, SPHR, Executive Director, AIA St. Louis Chapter is also a member of the National AIA committee; Equity and the Future of Architecture. Ms. Taylor-Liggins has over 20 years of leadership experience in the corporate and non-profit sectors. She is a thought leader in human resource processes, conflict resolution, mediation, leadership development, negotiation, and strategic management. Ms. Taylor-Liggins specializes in diversifying corporate executive teams, coaching high-performing potentials, all to promote interpersonal and emotional intelligence across generations in the workplace. She holds a Masters of Legal Laws from the University of Missouri, School of Law specializing in Dispute Resolution, a Masters of Arts in Management from Webster University and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Stephens College. She can be reached at or 314-276-3634. 
Celebrating Womens History Month March 2024 we honor a young history and change maker, Caitlin Clark.  She is setting the world on fire in the opinion of "The Credential!"
Caitlin Clark is an American college basketball player for the Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big Ten Conference. She is the NCAA Division 1 all-time leading scorer and is regarded as one of the greatest players in women's college basketball history.
Born:  January 22, 2002 (age 22 years), Des Moines, IA
Current team:  Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball (#22 / Guard)
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