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IWBI Logo WELL Equity Rating

WELL Equity Rating: Addressing inequalities in diversity, equity inclusion and accessibility

Using Baker Stuart’s third-party anonymous survey, PeopleLOOK™, and general expertise to complete the IWBIs latest certification.

In an ever-evolving world that places increasing importance on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, innovative approaches to building design and the certification thereof have emerged to champion these vital principles.

As a key player in this space, the IWBI has introduced the WELL Equity Rating to complement existing certifications and ratings – namely the WELL Certification (currently v2) and the Health Safety and Performance ratings.

The WELL Equity Rating is a powerful framework designed to address inequalities and reshape the way we think about such important areas often sidelined in the past.

For Baker Stuart, who have been working as partners with the IWBI for a number of years, and who can provide PeopleLOOK™ for the overall WELL certification, this is an exciting opportunity to support organisations in creating environments that prioritise not only physical wellbeing but also social equity.

In this blog, we take a look at the background to the WELL Equity Rating and how to achieve it with a focus on the pivotal role that PeopleLOOK™ plays in achieving the IWBIs latest certification.

Time to read: 7 minutes

WELL Equity Rating - a background timeline of key IWBI certifications*

WELL v1 Plot: October 2014

The WELL Building Standard was introduced in its pilot version, marking the beginning of a new era in building design and construction. It focused primarily on aspects related to physical health and well-being, laying the foundation for subsequent versions.

WELL v1: November 2016

Building upon the pilot version, WELL v1 brought a more comprehensive set of features and guidelines. It included a holistic approach to well-being, addressing not only physical health but also mental and emotional well-being.

WELL v2 Pilot: June 2018

The WELL v2 Pilot version aimed to gather feedback and refine the standard based on real-world projects and experiences. It encouraged projects to test the new features and provide valuable input.

WELL Health-Safety Rating

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the WELL Health-Safety Rating was introduced to address the specific health and safety concerns of building occupants. It provided guidelines and strategies for mitigating health risks in indoor spaces. It is still used today as a reminder to building occupants that the owners continue to actively mitigate against health risks within their spaces.

WELL v2: July 2021

WELL v2 marked a significant evolution in the standard. It introduced a more streamlined and user-friendly framework, making it easier for projects to pursue WELL certification. This version emphasized a more flexible approach to project certification.

WELL Performance Rating: April 2022

The WELL Performance Rating was created to provide a rating that recognizes building owners and operators for achieving excellence in healthy building performance aimed to enhance the well-being and experience of the people inside.

WELL Equity Rating: November 2022

Launched initially with 30 early adopters, the WELL Equity rating sets out to focus on social equity within a space; not just our physical – and mental – wellbeing.
*More detail on the certifications / ratings available can be found directly on the IWBI website https://www.wellcertified.com/ratings/

WELL Equity Rating - the story

Initial conversations that led to the creation of the WELL Equity rating started in 2021 and were primarily guided by the IWBI Health Equity advisory. This incredibly important group compromised more than 200 experts across all backgrounds, and included 44 co-chairs from 26 countries who were at different stages both of their lives and careers. They ensured that the vision of the IWBI to create a rating that truly represented equity was met. These individuals set about ensuring that the strategies to be included within this rating were those that actively confronted disparities in historically underserved and marginalised populations; promoting equity for all across organisations.

The work undertaken by the IWBI Health Equity advisory committee was recognised in the UK earlier this year at the InsideOut Awards, with the IWBI winning the Best DE&I for Mental Health Strategy for the WELL Equity Rating. This category honours the employer who has best supported the mental health of diverse groups in the workplace via their diversity, equity and inclusion strategy.

WELL Equity Rating - the benefits (an overview)

Key to the ethos that underpins the WELL Equity Rating is the provision of tools that enable all of your people to feel their best, and to have the opportunity to translate this into performing at their best and having the opportunity to achieve their potential.

A set of evidence-based strategies taken directly from the WELL Standard seek to create environments where everyone can thrive. They facilitate:

  • An understanding of complex employee experiences and needs across the organisation
  • A commitment to responsible supply chains and hiring practices that protect the people involved
  • The design of workspaces that welcome people of all backgrounds and physical abilities
  • An extension of access to healthcare, social services and other benefits relevant to all employees
  • Healthy habits and behaviours, encouraging their adoption across all levels of the organisation as basic standards for adherence
  • An opportunity to volunteer time and resources to underserved populations in your community

WELL Equity Rating - the work to be done

In order to complete the WELL Equity Rating an organisation must achieve a minimum of 21 points from 49 available features (as at 10th October 2023) across six action areas:

User Experience and Feedback (EE)

  • EE1 Create DEI Assessment and Action Plan
  • EE2 Incorporate Integrative Design
  • EE3 Administer Basic Survey
  • EE4 Utilise Enhanced Survey
  • EE5 Facilitate Interviews, Focus Groups, and / or Observations
  • EE6 Administer Baseline and Annual Surveys
  • EE7 Develop Stress Management Plan

Responsible Hiring and Labor Practices (EH)

  • EH1 Implement DEI Support Systems
  • EH2 Implement DEI Hiring Practices and Wage Equity
  • EH3 Disclose and Evaluate Responsible Labour Practices
  • EH4 Implement Responsible Labour Practices

Inclusive Design (ED)

  • Integrate Accessible and Universal Design
  • ED2 Provide Bathroom Accommodations
  • ED3 Promote Nature, Place and Culture
  • ED4 Enhance Lighting Environment
  • ED5 Provide Ergonomic Workstation Design and Control
  • ED6 Provide Enhanced Ergonomics
  • ED7 Implement Acoustic Work Zone Control
  • ED8 Enhance Speech Intelligibility
  • ED9 Provide Workplace Thermal and Lighting Control
  • ED10 Support Movement through Site Planning

Health Benefits and Services (EB)

  • EB1 Promote Health Benefits
  • EB2 Provide Enhanced Health Benefits
  • EB3 Offer Accessible Health Services
  • EB4 Offer Sick Leave and Flexible Work
  • EB5 Support Equitable Working Hours
  • EB6 Offer Childcare Support
  • EB7 Offer New Parent Leave and Support
  • EB8 Support Family Leave
  • EB9 Provide Mental Health Screening and Services
  • EB10 Establish Education and Support
  • EB11 Support Victims of Domestic Violence

Supportive Programs and Spaces (ES)

  • ES1 Offer Lactation Support
  • ES2 Provide Restorative Space
  • ES3 Provide Physical Activity Spaces
  • ES4 Select Preferred Cleaning Products
  • ES5 Ensure Local Food Access
  • ES6 Promote Food Quality
  • ES7 Accommodate Food Sensitivities

Community Engagement (EC)

  • EC1 Engage Community
  • EC2 Provide Community Space
  • EC3 Historical Acknowledgement
  • EC4 Allocate Affordable Housing

Innovation (EI)

Similar to the WELL standard, points may be awarded for innovation and the facilitation of novel approaches to the challenges faced that include the incorporation of a WELL AP within the project team.

 

More detail on the individual features can be found on the IWBI site – HERE – alongside information on available resources and relevant FAQs, where available.

WELL Equity Rating - the role of Baker Stuart

For a number of years, Baker Stuart have worked alongside the IWBI, providing our anonymous, third-party survey – PeopleLOOK™ – to support organisations to gain either the precondition C03 or C04 concepts within the Community feature (depending on which version they were registered for). 

We have also been able to help with a number of related optimisations that truly give an organisation the opportunity to involve their people in WELL certification.

As the WELL Equity Rating is introduced, and the focus moves squarely to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, it is – in our opinion – fundamental to look closely at the different features available within User Experience and Feedback to give a voice to all those within the organisation.

Whilst there are no preconditions within the WELL Equity Rating, EE3 (Administer Basic Survey) provides a foundation for conversation, and our PeopleLOOK™ survey ensures that everyone has that voice and can express an opinion on the workplace, ensuring that it enables everyone to fulfil their potential.

However, EE4 (Utilise Enhanced Survey) and EE5 (Facilitate Interviews, Focus Groups, and/or Observations) go further, and allow an organisation to gather additional layers of data – and consequently layers of understanding – to enable employees to feel valued and to signpost key areas of both satisfaction and dissatisfaction for employers.

Building on minimum survey requirements – within EE4 – Baker Stuart can support an organisation with additional questions that dive deeper into an area specifically relevant to the organisation. This can be determined in conversation with HR to ensure that it adds maximum value and is a real opportunity to ensure that all voices are heard in a meaningful way. Whilst questions around healthy behaviours may fall flat in some organisations, additional insight into performance and resilience or policies and culture could be critical.

A different layer of information is added when undertaking EE5, and Baker Stuart have significant experience facilitating focus groups, workshops and observations in order to gather a deeper understanding of how people across the organisation perceive the workplace and to make positive recommendations for changes that could be made. We do so in a style that encourages participation from all and have developed a series of gamifications that not only make the sessions valuable, but that ensure that they are fun as well.

These people-focused elements of the rating provide an ideal opportunity to really understand the diverse populations within an organisation and can be a valuable way to include your people within what is an exciting, innovative and forward-looking certification now offered by the IWBI.

Sarah Moore
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About Baker Stuart

We are an independent specialist consultancy providing a comprehensive range of innovative workplace strategy, workplace management and change, move management, project management and programme management services. Thinking about optimising your organisation? Get in touch with us here.

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