AIA Minnesota’s Just Label and You

by Mary-Margaret Zindren, EVP/Executive Director

This summer, AIA Minnesota became the first and only AIA-related organization in the nation to hold the Just 2.0 Label from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). We join a growing number of organizations throughout the nation and the world to pursue and obtain a Just Label. 

You likely know ILFI best through its signature programs focused on furthering a regenerative built environment:  the Living Building ChallengeLiving Product Challenge, and Living Community Challenge; the Zero Energy and Zero Carbon certifications; and the Declare Label.

Like the Declare Label, the Just Label is about transparency. What’s unique about the Just Label, compared to ILFI’s other programs, is its inward-facing nature – how your organization treats its employees; how the organization lives the values it espouses when it comes to equity. 

While internally focused, publishing and promoting your Just Label allows potential employees and industry collaborators to learn more about your organization through rigorous third-party measurement. It demonstrates that you value transparency and, more than anything, that you care about ongoing conversation, policy development, and continuous improvement when it comes to a fair and just work environment and operations.

For architecture firms we’ve talked with in Minnesota that have attained their Just Label, they appreciate the snapshot of where they are, and the ability to learn from others that they benchmark against in the industry; all of the policies related to an organization’s Just Label are linked to from the ILFI website, allowing good ideas for implementation to be seeded throughout the industry. These firms often include their label on their websites and in RFP responses. Their studio members are proud of what this attainment means in terms of the priority placed on their health, wellbeing, fair compensation, and commitment to the broader community.

For you as an AIA Minnesota member, we hope you also take pride in knowing that the organization you are a member of treats its employees fairly and is working to be in alignment with your values. Research is also increasingly proving what many have posited for a long time: that how you treat your people translates into how they treat your members, partners, and customers. Your experience as a member of AIA Minnesota hinges on the employee experience, internally. 

And for the great majority of members who work in for-profit organizations, the causal link between employee experience, customer/client experience, and the financial bottom line continues to be proven out with stronger and stronger research. As a recent Forbes article put it, “Becoming a customer-centric business is always worthwhile, and if you want to add a serious competitive edge, concentrate on offering a great employee experience first. When you see employee and customer experience as two sides of the same coin, the dividends you reap are unlimited.”

Of the 153 entities in the U.S. that currently hold Just Labels, these are the 7 with a Minnesota office/headquarters; we also know of several additional architecture firms that have submitted their documentation or are in the process of doing so:

If you are interested in exploring pursuit of the Just Label, please let us know – we’re happy to share our experience and eager to support your efforts!

View the August 2023 edition of Matrix.