WRNS Studio Aims to Make Architecture More Equitable

First Design Firm with a Head Office in California to Earn the International Living Futures Institute’s Social Justice Label

WRNS Studio is the first architecture firm with a head office in California, and one of less than 20 architecture firms nation wide, to achieve the International Living Futures Institute’s JUST label. The firm sought this social justice nutritional label to help lead the industry toward more equitable practice. Clients and employees can now see how this design-forward studio—nationally recognized for technically innovative, sustainable architecture and planning—treats its employees and where it invests. The equity indicators measured by JUST include diversity, equity, safety, worker benefit, local benefit, and stewardship.

“It was easy for us to earn the stars, because our success hinges on our people, and we run our business with their interests at heart,” says Director of Human Resources and firm Partner, Melinda Rosenberg. “But JUST is also a great opportunity for us to identify areas where we can improve. For example, we noticed that we have room to improve in the gender diversity and pay categories. This is an industry-wide issue, and while our percentages are quite good relative to industry standards, we want to do even better.”

Much like the work Equity by Design is doing with their surveys (according to their 2016 survey, women still earn less than their male counterparts across all levels of experience), the JUST Label arms WRNS Studio with data for making improvements across equity indicators. The firm hopes to honor its employees while inspiring other firms to commit to transparency and social justice.

“In a relatively short timeframe since program launch, the JUST Program has garnered worldwide interest and has helped organizations to develop better employee engagement policies and community stewardship practices. The JUST Label is reflective of WRNS Studio’s long standing commitment to sustainable design and the role that social equity plays in truly sustainable organizations,” says Francis Janes, JUST Program Manager, International Living Future Institute.

The JUST Label is part of a series of efforts WRNS is implementing to do their part to promote equity and transparency. Partner/Director of Sustainability Pauline Souza explains, “We have supported initiatives like the Health Product Declaration and systems like LEED and the Living Building Challenge that ask manufacturers and clients to embrace transparency. We know that we should expect the same of ourselves, but we also know you cannot improve what you don’t measure. The JUST System allows us to celebrate what we are doing well, and focus on areas in which we can do better.”

About WRNS Studio
With offices in San Francisco, New York, and Honolulu, WRNS Studio’s staff of 135 works with some of today’s transformative organizations—Adobe, Dolby, Airbnb, Microsoft, Stanford University, the University of California San Francisco, and the Trust for Public Land, to name a few. The firm engages in a diversity of projects, from small urban community centers to school buildings to new workplaces campuses.

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