Making Her Mark exhibition, Hackney Museum

Equality Diversity & Inclusion

In July 2020, Museum Development UK (MDUK) released a statement in response to the international Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody, stating its commitment to learn, taking action and actively listen to what was happening across the globe.

The first thing MDUK did was establish an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) working group. The group has met every two months to share ideas, concerns, challenges and our aspirations for the kinds of changes we want to see in the museum sector with regards to diversity and inclusion and how we can enable these changes. EDI is now a standing agenda item at quarterly MDUK Committee and twice-monthly MD England leads meetings. MDUK is also part of the UK Museums Workforce Group.

Early in 2021, MD England commissioned Inclusive Boards to deliver EDI training for 15 staff members representing all 9 regions in England. The 3-part bespoke virtual training programme was designed to ensure that delegates gained a broader knowledge and understanding of diversity and inclusion so that they are able to become EDI champions. Delegates gained a clear understanding of the Equalities Act 2010, the unconscious bias spectrum, and different types of micro-aggression. Strong facilitation enabled participants to explore specific equalities strands, and terminologies around the topics of racism, white privilege, reclaimed words, positive discrimination and positive action. From the training evaluation, delegates reported the actions they intend to achieve over the next 6 months as:

  1. Review and revise internal Equality Action Plans
  2. Embed EDI activity more fully across all programmes and activities delivered
  3. Disseminate learning and resources to other teams members
  4. Develop existing EDI programmes and commission new programmes for museums.

This vital training has helped to shape and inform programmes that are being delivered for the museum sector by Museum Development teams.

MD England has also woven EDI questions, adopted from the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) Tackling Inequalities Hallmark into the Museums’ Organisational Health Check – a self-assessment tool for museums. This will enable MD England to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the sector in relation to EDI so that we can shape programmes to meet the needs of museums.

MDUK recognises our role, alongside that of museums, to develop an inclusive sector that challenges and opposes racism and inequality and we are working to develop a shared approach to support museums to address institutional, sectoral and societal inequalities.

In a new partnership, MDUK and the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) are collaborating on the development of a national EDI programme for museums from across England and Wales. Key aims of the project are as follows:

  • Support museums, staff and volunteers to develop a consistent level of understanding of EDI and what it means for them as organisations and for their visitors
  • Raise awareness of the museum specific challenges and opportunities relating to EDI and support the development of workable solutions to take action
  • Support museums to develop a better understanding of the challenges being faced by their local communities
  • Highlight and enable inclusive museum best practice and empower museums to tackle systematic issues
  • Explore a new model of working for MDUK

Further details for the 2021 Equity and Inclusion Programme are available here.