Payette is thrilled to announce the successful renewal of its JUST label, a “nutrition label for socially just and equitable organizations” issued by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). Payette applied for the JUST label two years ago as part of the firm’s ongoing efforts to facilitate increased transparency and equitable outcomes within our office and the greater profession.
The JUST label is distinct from initiatives like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and the Well Building Standard because it is not a certification. Instead, JUST is simply a way for organizations to meaningfully disclose their operations, including issues related to employee health and broader financial allocations. Being a JUST company allows Payette to be recognized among a select group of organizations that willingly opt-in to sharing company policies on ILFI’s online database. Our new JUST label can be found here.
The following are highlights from each JUST category, including where we have made progress as a firm and where there is still room for improvement:
In the Diversity and Inclusion category, Payette moved up a level in Gender Diversity (to Level 3) but moved down levels in the Ethnic Diversity and Inclusion indicators (to Level 1). That said, Payette has improved upon general ethnic diversity in the office over the last two years. Currently, non-white employees account for 31% of staff (excluding leadership) compared to 22% in 2020. These numbers also better reflect the demographics of greater Boston, where the aggregated non-white population of Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Plymouth counties is 31%. Our lower level in the Ethnic Diversity and Inclusion indicators is a consequence of increasing diversity in the region and the number of non-white Payette employees accounting for less than 12.5% of overall leadership. Level 2 achievement requires leadership to reflect at least 40% of the region’s minority population. Since the minority population of our region is 31%, a minimum of 12.5% of individuals in leadership should be non-white.
In the Equity category, Payette is proud to have achieved Level 4 recognition in Gender Pay Equity. At present, the max variance in pay between genders for employees at all pay scales is less than 5%. In 2020, the firm was recognized at Level 1. Payette leadership prioritizes gender pay equity and believes this new level of recognition better reflects the firm’s values. Similarly, compensation for interns and junior staff was reevaluated using the Living Wage indicator, which is the basis for JUST’s evaluation of this category.
In the Employee Health category, Payette is also proud to have achieved Level 4 recognition in Well-Being. Over the past 2-3 years, and especially since the inception of the pandemic, Payette has made a tremendous effort to maintain and even improve upon the firm culture. Today at Payette, we promote a healthy work environment by providing flexible work arrangements, ample employee resource groups, a dedicated meditation room, a mother’s room, and many opportunities for social outings. Recent examples of social outings and events include seasonal happy hours like the YDC Ping Pong Tournament finale at SPIN and Ice Skating at Trillium/Time Out Market as well as recurring in-office breaks like Thirsty Thursdays and Snack Tuesday.
In the Employee Benefits category, Payette moved up two levels in Retirement Provision (to Level 3). This was largely a result of employees now being auto enrolled into our 401k program. In the past, employees needed to opt-in to take advantage of Payette’s retirement program. Payette is committed to helping employees work toward retirement and continues to match a percentage of employee 401k contributions.
In the Stewardship category, Payette moved up a level in Community Volunteering (to Level 2). Level 2 indicates employees are provided at least 8 hours of paid time-off to volunteer at an organization of their choice. On June 1st, Payette launched its new Volunteer Time-Off (VTO) policy that provides employees with the ability to dedicate up to 8 hours of their time to serve the communities in which we live and work. Payette has always prioritized volunteer work on a macro level via several pro-bono projects and our annual MLK Day of Service. However, this new policy allows Payette’s humanitarianism to have an even greater reach by valuing the causes our employees value on an individual level.
And in the final category, Purchasing & Supply Chain, Payette maintained its Level 4 recognition in Equitable Purchasing and moved up a level in Supply Chain (to Level 3). Equitable Purchasing relates to diversity and equity among the vendors we do business with (primarily office supplies and overhead costs), and Supply Chain relates to contractor, consultant and project team selection. For the former, Payette currently contracts several locally-owned businesses for catering, including Baker’s Best and Crown Coffee. Additionally, Archimedia (a Women-owned business – WBE) handles our plotting needs, and Aqueduct Technologies (a Minority-owned business – MBE) handles a sizable portion of our IT services. For the latter, Payette is committed to performing due diligence to identify and assess the social impact of who we choose to partner with. At present, Payette has set a firm-wide goal of 15% Women-owned and 6.6% Minority-owned consultants within a project team, a requirement that mirrors that of the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAMM). To this end, Payette’s Marketing department and project managers have developed a comprehensive list of WBE/MBE partners, and several WBE/MBE Consultant Introduction events have been held in the office.
While we are thrilled to have renewed our JUST label, it is only a snapshot of things to come! The journey towards a more just world and architectural profession is long and arduous, but worth the trek.