Earles Architects and Associates: Building Inclusivity in the Workplace and Beyond

| By Kaela Roeder

Over the past 30 years, Dan Earles, founder of Earles Architects and Associates, has built an inclusive and successful architecture and interior design firm.

For Earles, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) has acted as a platform for Earles Architects and Associates to network, gain industry recognition, and access to integral business resources.

Founded in 1991 and certified in 2014, Earles Architects and Associates has been an active company in the LGBT business community. The company works as a full-service architecture and interior design firm, specializing in corporate interior build-outs. Services range from initial programming to construction administration, and fully encompass the entire building process.

“EAA prides itself on delivering exceptional client services that focus on propelling the individual goals of each project. A wide network of construction professionals enables successful, innovative results that provide lasting spatial solutions,” said Earles.

Before launching Earles Architects and Associates, Dan Earles grew his industry experience as an architectural associate at other practices. However, he was not pleased with the restrictions imposed on self-expression in corporate culture, leading him and his former business partner to launch their own operation. Since becoming certified with the NGLCC, Earles has seen his business skyrocket.

“Becoming a Certified LGBTBE® through the NGLCC has opened the door for Earles Architects and Associates to develop relationships with Fortune 500 companies that may not have been accessible otherwise,” Earles said.

Also, presenting itself as a diverse supplier has allowed EAA to attract the attention of reputable organizations such as the Howard Brown Health Center and the Obama Foundation. Earles is also proud of what the Certified LGBTBE®  label says about his company.

“In addition to broadening EAA's opportunities to expand and grow business, the LGBTBE certification provides a formal foundation for expressing our mission to advance initiatives surrounding diversity and inclusion,” he explained.

Earles has a lot to be proud of. In 2019, his business was recognized as a top tier Chicago business to work for by Crain's Business. The publication ranked EAA fourth among hundreds of applicants, and third in all small businesses. The award is based off of leadership, employee and third-party surveys regarding corporate culture, retention, benefits, amenities and other standards.

This recognition provided EAA the assurance that it's currently operating according to the original mission of advancing and protecting inclusivity in the workplace and beyond.

Looking forward, Earles seeks to become the leading architectural design firm in the Chicagoland commercial real estate market. He hopes to step away from tenant-based renovations, and produce innovative spaces for higher profile corporations.

“In five years, EAA will have constructed several landmark projects in unfamiliar market sectors. The team is currently exploring hospitality and retail opportunities. In ten years, EAA will be profiled as a leader in the Chicagoland commercial architecture community, as well as a captain of diversity and inclusion,” Earles said.

Having been in the business industry for some time, Earles has valuable advice for other LGBT-owned businesses.

“In order to lead a successful business, it's important to serve with passion every day, and balance one's natural intuition with the support of others who bring new insight and knowledge to the table. Most importantly, follow your heart and instinct, learn from your mistakes, and be true to yourself,” said Earles.

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