Friday, 4 May 2018

Diversity and Sustainability are Great Attributes...but PLEASE Steer Clear of the Corporate Cafeteria...

I have been hit smack in the eyes and ears with a lot of hype lately broadcasting leaders in diversity and sustainability in the home building and products market but they all seem to fall short of really living up to the terms.   The same thing is happening to these words that has happened to the word universal:  they are being used cafeteria-style depending on the message or selling tactic behind the use and often not with respect to their full meanings.

Case in point: an article titled Diversity in Building which excited me at first because it led me to think a home builder was getting recognized for their diverse house plans but the article was about gender and women stepping up to the plate in the building industry.   Do not get me wrong because women getting recognized in the off-balance game of building spaces rocks without a doubt, but to me, being a woman led business is not comprehensive enough to warrant a title of diverse so please avoid these misleading headlines, writers and reporters of America.  The article made mention of women and people of color lacking in the industry but what about people with disabilities and those over 55 who are working to make changes to outdated practices?  What about people from the LGBT community?  And there was no mention made of diversity in house plans being offered to consumers, so in my humble opinion there remains much room for improvement to really encompass diversity as an adjective in home building beyond the business end of it.  The article in question is at the bottom of this post.

Diversity aside but not forgotten, the term that is the most misrepresented of the two is sustainability because in reference to housing and product design, it seems to have become just another buzz term about a green environment without encompassing the whole concept of what sustainable, and environment for that matter, means.

I looked it up and the first item under sustain in Merriam-Webster says it all:

1. to give support or relief to

Knowing that definition, the meaning of sustainability becomes crystal clear especially if you say the word slowly and as two separate terms, as in sustain ability.

So with that in mind, sustainability in the development of buildings or products for end users needs to also mean the inventory/product will sustain a person's ability to live life while they are living as much as it will not not harm the future of the planet.

A good example of corporate cafeteria-style usage is Whirlpools new Sustainability line of washers and dryers.  Check out the link below and click the Installs Virtually Anywhere button and look at the example given and ask yourself if a person of short stature or someone in a wheelchair will have the ability to reach the top controls of the unit to sustain their laundry needs themselves or are they going to have to rely on someone else to do this lifelong chore for them?

https://www.whirlpoolpro.com/sustainability/#.compact

Don't get me wrong, it is a nice unit and front loading stackables are great in the world of universal design but only if the controls are within reach.   As a Whirpool user I am sending a note to them to let them know their stackable units need to have the controls on the upper piece moved and will let you know what comes of it because end user feedback should always count for something. I am going to suggest they at least offer a remote control option if it is too costly for them to redesign their whole line and will keep you posted. 

In the meantime, think of all the end users in your home before you spend money on big purchases that may unwittingly leave out someone fully capable and ready to participate in the chores and joys of a fully functioning household. 

Almost forgot the article I mentioned on diversity:

http://www.builderonline.com/builder-100/diversity-in-home-building_o?utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=Article&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BP_042418%20(1)&he=

Here too is the link to Merriam-Webster's definition of environment:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/environment

Cheers,

 AB

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