Women in Office Design – Kay Sargent

Monthly Column By

This month’s Women in Office Design column features Kay Sargent, FASID, FIIDA, CID, LEED® AP, MCR.w, WELL AP, Director of Workplace at HOK.

From then to now

Kay has been designing space since a kid! She was the only girl in the architectural drafting class at college and subsequently opened one of the first CADD departments in a design firm in Washington, DC. Throughout Kay’s career she has designed every kind of space imaginable – from jails to press rooms; courtrooms to high-tech cyber security spaces; from labs to retail. Now, with 37 years of experience, she is a recognised expert on workplace design and strategy issues and spends a lot of time looking to the future!

Kay’s Current Role

Kay is Co-Director of HOK’s WorkPlace team and serves as a member of HOK’s Board of Directors. She oversees a practice that supports organisations undertaking multiple projects in multiple locations. This includes helping clients redefine how, when and where people work, and supports a holistic design approach that integrates an organisation’s people, processes, places and tools. Working with clients that have large portfolios and who don’t like surprises, Kay aims to do a lot of futurecasting and thought leadership so support clients to be future-ready and positioned for success.

What is the current status of the industry relating to the careers of women? And what can it do better?

“As the saying goes, “We’ve come a long way baby”, but we have a long way to go. In the past decade the industry has continued to make strides in gender equity but the pandemic has had a negative impact and set us back. In September 2020, 865,000 women left the U.S. workforce — four times more than men. We are now witnessing the lowest percent of women in the workforce, below 57%, for the first time since 1988, eroding a generation of progress. We need to focus on pay equity; increasing paternity leave so men take a bigger role with childcare; ensuring access to quality, affordable childcare; and looking for ways to support women so they are able to engage fully in the workforce. We also need to elevate women in the workplace and support their ascent into leadership roles.”

What are the current topics or trends within workplace design which excite you?

“Diversity, equity and inclusion, DEI, is more than the theme of the day. It’s the cause of a generation and merits the attention of all. We are looking more and more into not only how we diversify our own firm and industry, but how we create workplaces that are welcoming and inclusive for all. We took a deep dive into neurodiversity four years ago and continue to develop and expand that research. We are continuing our efforts to embrace and advantage DEI issues.”


About Women in Office Design

Women in Office Design is a networking and learning platform for like-minded women in the workplace design industry. Founded in May 2018 by Harsha Kotak, an interior designer with a vision to inspire and empower women working in all areas of the office design industry, WOD is a growing network of 1500 plus global members. www.woduk.com
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