Issue 119/03, 01.03.2019
Do we need a new approach to workforce diversity?
Last month, Arts Council England published its annual diversity report for 2017-18. Equality Diversity and the Creative Case showed that museums in England are still lagging behind other cultural sectors when it comes to workforce diversity. The proportion of Major Partner Museum (MPM) staff from diverse backgrounds has remained largely static, with disabled people and those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds particularly under-represented.
Jess Turtle, inclusion manager, Museums Association
“Yes, we need to radically rethink our approach to ‘diversity’. We need to actually ask ‘what power structures are operating here and how can they be changed?’ We also need to ask ‘who benefits from privilege and what are they doing with that?’
Attempts to ‘diversify’ museums fail when they are not coupled with a genuine commitment to social justice and inclusion. Too often the sector expects change to come from those perceived as ‘diverse’. We need people with more privilege to recognise it and to act as better allies. This will help us achieve systemic change.”
Becki Morris, director, Disability Collaborative Network (DCN)
“Part of DCN’s work is to develop best practice and support for the heritage sector to be inclusive in working practices and as a representative workforce. Our work with our colleagues in other sectors has shown how to adopt tested practices to identify and retain talent; reflect and support employees; reduce staff sickness; increase positive mental health; and be inclusive. Other sectors use strategies, standards and networks that benefit the organisation in terms of customer experience as well as the workforce.Why should the heritage sector holistically be any different?”
Luke Watkeys, head of HR, Museum of London
“As the Museum of London we believe that diversity, inclusion and creativity go hand in hand and that we are a stronger, bolder and more confident organisation when we embrace diversity. Last year we consulted on a staff diversity strategy and this is now being implemented through a cross-organisation group chaired by Sharon Ament, the director of our museum. This sets out our evidence-based approach to diversity, how we will attract and select a diverse range of people to work for us, and how we’ll continue to promote diversity and inclusion internally.”