hcma is JUST certified! We are thrilled to be the first architecture firm in BC to apply and successfully meet the JUST requirements. This is the first step in what we hope will be improved transparency in architecture firms and other businesses.

What is JUST?
JUST is a label companies can adopt voluntarily to review themselves against some 'socially good', 'socially just', criteria. The Living Future Institute has developed it as a platform for organizations to be transparent about the goings on in their firm, and communicate it out to the world. The idea being that, in the same way you get nutritional information stickers on food to show how healthy it is, a JUST label shows you how healthy, and socially equitable, a company is for it’s employees and the wider community.

What is included on a JUST label?
There are 6 main categories which make up the frame work of what firms use to...self-reflect. They include diversity, equity, safety, worker benefit, local benefit, and stewardship, which each have further sub-categories. Firms rate themselves out of 3 for each sub-category against a set of specific criteria and the hardest challenge – particularly at hcma – was finalizing the application, when we constantly wanted to implement positive changes as you went along. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the status quo.

Why is it important to our firm?
JUST gives us clear benchmarks for social progression within the firm and improves our organizational focus. Diversity and inclusion are particularly important topics for us, we are proud that women make up 50% of our workforce in an industry which is dominated by men.

It also allows our clients and collaborators to get to know the firm better. People who work with us should know where we stand on certain issues – we have high standards for ourselves and this helps the wider world hold us to those standards as well. We hope that we are the first of many firms to seek JUST certification, it really does offer a roadmap for organizations to improve employee satisfaction and happiness. We want our team to be happy, motivated and strongly connected to organizational purpose and values.

How did hcma find out about it?
The International Living Future Institute believe in making our communities socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. We share these values and as part of our sustainable design efforts have worked towards other programs developed by the ILFI. While seeking Living Building Challenge certification for our UniverCity Childcare project, we were directed towards JUST. For us, JUST seemed like a logical first step towards improved transparency at hcma.

How can other firms get certified? Our top 5 tips to get it done:

1. Jump straight in

Start will filling in as much as you can off the top of your head, it’s incredible how much you’ll be able to fill in right off the bat.

2. Break it down into steps, and allocate them to experts in the firm

We found that we could fill in half the information needed, but breaking down the rest into manageable chunks and distributing these tasks around the firm made the progression much swifter.

3. Fill in the application form as you go along

You’ll edit yourself a lot, keep a running document full of everything you need and update you feel comfortable with each section. This gives JUST a chance to monitor your progress and help you through when you need it.

4. Don’t get too hung up on ‘policies’

We weren’t enamored by the idea of fixed, forever set-in-stone policies for each and every sub-category. Instead, we created guidelines, and some clarity, about our positions on each issue.

5. Don’t beat yourself up

If you go through your rating and think…oooo but we are about to hire a few more women to the team, or we could give to an animal charity this month…and wait to take those actions before you submit your application, you will never get there. The idea of the label is to be transparent about a snapshot in time, if you publish it as is, it gives you time and the ability to improve upon that.

Take the leap and publish the label as you are, use it as a platform to improve.

Learn more about JUST:
JUST website
JUST user manual