Conversations about equity, diversity, and inclusivity have been ongoing ever since a series of movements and events shed light on the societal gap. The built environment presents an opportunity to spur change and progress –which turns our eyes toward intentional design
A lot has been written about our return to the office. One commonly accepted theme is that the new office needs to provide spaces that respond to the human condition. Spaces that look, feel, and act more like the personal home offices we will likely move away from at some point.
One of the great takeaways from our work-from-home experiences is our ability to take off the corporate mask and work in an environment more in tune with our unique personalities and personal choices.
We’ve been working and often sharing a more personal side of ourselves with our co-workers than would have otherwise been possible in the formal office environments we left behind in 2020.
The offices we return to will likely provide softer seating areas, more variety in workspace choices and more generous amenities, providing diversity in our work experience. However, there is still a lot of room for conversation about making the office a more diverse and inclusive personal experience.
One key element that is getting more attention is how the public restroom experience can be modified to be more welcoming and accepting for all, regardless of handicap, gender identity, and personal preference.
Over 86% of job seekers say workplace diversity is important when looking for a job (ZipRecruiter). Eliminating the stigma of gender-labeled restrooms, which require users to declare their identity before entering publicly, is a huge step forward in the workplace diversity conversation.
Models of truly gender-neutral restrooms are being developed that anticipate the widest variety of gender and accessibility needs into a modular stall design that ensures ease of use and privacy for the broadest spectrum of users.
For instance, in a recent project, we developed a communal restroom with a common vanity area and non-specific modular toilet stalls with full-height walls and solid doors for privacy.
Along with the typical ADA-required clearances and accessories, each stall has a full-length mirror, extra clothing hooks, and a cosmetics shelf with a power outlet. Every stall is identical to assure anonymity and remove the need to choose one set of fixtures over another.
Finding the real estate for this type of restroom approach can be challenging in buildings where existing restrooms are buried in building cores, but with careful planning, some variation of this universal accommodation can and should be made.
A company that prioritises diversity and inclusion will stand out to employees as a place they respect. As the next generation takes on leadership roles within a company, diversity and inclusion will be top-of-mind.
Today, many job candidates are not just looking for the most competitive salary but rather companies with forward-thinking beliefs and priorities. Providing truly gender-neutral restrooms can be a critical component to a company’s overall commitment to its employees.
Image by Atbo