Moving toward a better BNIM
In 2013, BNIM founder Bob Berkebile and BNIM alumnus Jason McLennan launched the JUST Label, an extension of the Declare Label, which aimed to increase transparency about products used in buildings and construction.
The JUST Label is more than a certification program, instead it works as a platform for businesses to increase transparency about how they measure up when it comes to improving social equity, how employees are treated, supplier diversity, and their community impact.
Over the past few years, BNIM has undergone the process to submit our first JUST Label certification. This process was filled with reflection, documentation, conversation, and measurement. The combination of qualitative and quantitative assessments helped to double check our assumptions and show us where improvement is needed. The conversations with employees and leadership have proved valuable in teasing out the nuances of what changes will move us toward a better BNIM.
The JUST Label sets out benchmarks that increase the standards from Level One, being the lowest level, to Level Four, being the top of the industry. These benchmarks include having written policies, achieving quantitative benchmarks, and making commitments transparent and public to better position ourselves for growth.
BNIM has achieved some of the higher rankings in some and is working on improving others through this process. BNIM’s JUST Label 2.0 will be our baseline, providing clarity on how to systematically measure the social and environmental justice of our business practices. This baseline also gives us the opportunity to create a roadmap for advancing our goals, which will be tracked by our renewal documentation through this program.
Among our key findings is that diversity is a challenge industry wide, and BNIM is no different. The JUST Label process gives us a critical benchmark and is another reminder to double our efforts. We currently are a part of a larger effort to build a more diverse talent pipeline to design schools. This includes partnering with the University Academy Foundation to provide internships for their graduates who are pursuing design degrees, being actively involved with NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects), and being intentional about expand beyond our local region’s universities and colleges for recruiting and hiring. BNIM has also worked with PREP-KC, having the opportunity to host middle school students in our office for a day long design experience and to send our employees to participate career jumping events on-site at local middle schools.
This is just a start.
BNIM is excited to continue to work to improve each year and to use the JUST Label as a framework to guide this process and be transparent to those outside of the firm.
BNIM, like most organizations, is not perfect. However, taking steps to understand our values, how we exceed or come up short on our goals, and the impact we have on our own communities is key to make us better as a firm and to help us contribute to a more equitable and just world.