DHG supports workforce diversity programme

DHG were invited to support the initiation of the British Museum’s new Heritage Lottery Funded programme called Learning Museum. Ten museums have joined forces with the British museum to form a supportive hub. They will each recruit a trainee, someone who would like a career in the sector but has little or no previous experience. Trainee’s will come from a  range of diverse backgrounds and 60% will be from age group 18-24.  Crucially, the trainees will be focusing on areas where the sector has a current shortage of expertise and will work towards vocational qualifications.

The British Museum ran a  two day event to start the programme.  The recruitment phase will utilise community networks and many more people will get an insight into working in the sector and gain practical experience in this phase. So my contribution focused on a recap of the last decade of practice to remind ourselves of the common pitfalls when embarking on community engagement in order that we might consider the things host museums need to put in place to maximise the impact of the programme. Here is my presentation. Learning from mistakes. The audio and video is not currently available but when they are published I will insert links.

Robert Still from Still HR shared a lot of really useful and detailed information on recruiting fairly and legally with diversity in mind. It is so important for organisations to understand that the type of organisation they are (public/private) and the type of role they are offering (traineeship/job) and of course their location in the UK will affect what they should and should not do and their legal requirements under the Equality Act 2010. Robert led us through a  wide range of pertinent issues from when and where to advertise-or not, affirmative/positive action and discrimination, the exception to the law for disabled people in very specific circumstances, qualification issues, recruiting for intellect, emotional intelligence and culturally sensitivity and setting appropriate, measurable criteria.

Perhaps one of the most well known professionals in our sector for workforce diversity is Lucy Shaw. Who generously shared a wealth of experience from the Museum Association’s former Diversify programme. While celebrating the successes and this new programme we shared Lucy’s exasperation that 15 years on we are still having the discussions and museums are replying on funded projects to diversify their workforces. Lucy’s emphasis therefore was on organisational responsibility and encouraging the group to consider ways to sustain and embed the process beyond the life of the programme, as well as offering a plethora of helpful hints and experience.

So how do you actually put a positive action traineeship into practice? We were all pretty blown away by the thoughtful approaches shared by Hazel Courtely sharing learning from several programmes including Stepping Stones by Norfolk Museum Service and Claire Poulton’s  sharing of detailed mechanisms of the National Trust’s Heritage Skills Passport Programme. One of my favourite things about forming and being a part of networks is the active peer learning that happens and this was truly in force at the British Museum yesterday. By the end, my head was spinning with the sheer volume of practical advice from recruitment strategies, taster day activities, timing, ghant charts, application methods, specific disability adjustments, interview techniques, scoring matrices, range statements, mentoring, buddying, evidencing work based qualifications, involving wider staff teams, really well thought out recruit processes and challenging entrenched positions- to name just a few! It left me feeling excited and in awe of the cohort who now need to synthesise all that information and develop their own programmes. They are a great bunch, we know about networks here at DHG and my money is on that hub being a really supportive and productive group. It did make me wonder though, why can’t the rest of the sector easily get their hands on workforce diversity knowledge and resources online? Here is one PDF below as a starter and perhaps this is something DHG can revisit, in partnership with others later on? For now, our very best wishes and good luck to the Learning Museum Group, we look forward to hearing more.

Our collaborative checklist:


 Other resources: 

Creating an inclusive workplace – EHRC

Recruitment practice – EHRC

Employment guidance -EHRC

Case study – University of the Arts London


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