Practical Tips to Foster Diversity and Inclusion in Your Workplace

How can we enhance equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in our planning careers, workplaces, and the profession? The APA Florida EDI Committee hosted the EDI and Your Career Roundtable at the 2023 National Planning Conference for an open discussion of these needs and opportunities. In the NPC23 Career Center, the group shared their experiences and highlighted best practices for career growth, leadership development, work culture, and talent recruitment.

Enhancing EDI in Planning Careers

The group focused on the following questions for reflection and knowledge sharing:

  • What are the barriers to diverse planners' recruitment, retention, promotion, and leadership in planning agencies and consulting firms? How should the planning community address them?
  • How can employers promote a welcoming environment and community for diverse planners to share experiences, find or become mentors, and access career opportunities and professional growth?
  • What knowledge has helped you progress in your career and leadership? What would you like to learn?
Mandla Moyo shares tips and tricks to help recruit and retain diverse planners in the Career Center at NPC23.

Mandla Moyo shares tips and tricks to help recruit and retain diverse planners in the NPC23 Career Center.


    Amy Elmore, AICP, leads a conversation on the importance of being authentic and sharing our career stories in the Career Center at NPC23.

    Amy Elmore, AICP, leads a conversation on the importance of being authentic and sharing our career stories in the NPC23 Career Center.

    Embrace Discomfort for Professional Growth and Equity

    Get comfortable being uncomfortable

    The group recommended several difficult but necessary actions for career growth and a diverse and inclusive planning profession.

    • Give and receive constructive criticism.
    • Apply for "stretch" jobs and promotions you may not feel fully confident you can do.
    • Get involved in APA and community organizations and run for leadership positions. Be honest with yourself and others about existing inequities and important steps to resolve them within your agency and the profession. 

    Speak up

    Using your voice is essential to equity, visibility, and professional growth.

    • Talk in meetings to offer information or recommendations.
    • Ask for salary increases. Advocate for salary equity using the APA salary survey, the APA Women and Planning Division's salary negotiation resources, and the support of mentors.
    • Ask men to join the discussion on gender issues in the workplace.
    • Take action to be an ally to people different than yourself.

    Focus on employee recruitment

    Planning agencies need to take extraordinary steps in an environment with low unemployment and relatively lower salaries, compared to planning jobs' required education and the cost of living.

    • Create a structured program to find and develop future employees and support their growth within your agency.
    • Build recruitment within non-planner spaces to find new planners and start recruiting pre-higher education.
    • Hire trainees for their skills and job functions, then assist with employees' planning education via on-the-job training, "boot camps," and help with certification.

    Help your peers and employees grow

    A leader in a consulting firm shared that she focuses on ensuring her employees have high-level assignments and responsibility, with her support and credit for their accomplishments, as essential training for future leaders.

    • Ensure employee selection and promotion are based on their strengths and objective criteria, not leaders' familiarity and comfort with employees who are most like them.
    • Help employees find and develop their strengths using appropriate evaluation tools.
    • Create a culture where everyone can pursue their preferred growth pathways, share expertise, and show value.
    • Focus on team building and fostering a sense of belonging in your organization.

    One resource mentioned was Gallup's Strength Finders, one of many resources available online for team building and leadership training.

    Top image: iStock / Getty Images Plus

    About the AUthors
    Corinne Arriaga, CPH is an emerging planner and a member of the APA Florida Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. She Co-Chairs its Leadership and Membership Subcommittee and serves as an At-Large Area Director for APA Florida’s Sun Coast Section. Amy Elmore, AICP is a member of the APA Florida EDI Committee and Co-Chairs its Website and Social Media Subcommittee. She is the Vice President of Communications for APA Florida. Alissa Barber Torres, PhD, Ph.D.CP, CLTD, is a founding member and former Co-Chair of the APA Florida EDI Committee.

    May 15, 2023

    By Alissa Torres, FAICP, Corinne Arriaga, AICP, Amy Elmore, AICP