We’ve recently worked with one of the Arts Council National Portfolio Organisations and national museum, the National Justice Museum (NJM) to appoint their Chief Executive. A key tenet of NPO funding focuses on encouraging organisations to be more diverse in their staff and governance, not as a cynical box ticking exercise, but because it creates better work that is much more dynamic, exciting and contemporary. In simple terms if we want our cultural output to reflect and speak to society, the organisations’ creating and curating that work must reflect society too.
It was refreshing to see how the need for diversity was understood by trustees and staff within the museum and was integral to the next stage of their strategy and development – across programming, audience development, workforce and leadership, working hand in hand with their NPO Arts Council lead to ensure they can realise their ambitious plans. We are proud to have played our part in helping them appoint a dynamic and energetic new CEO and because of the well understood diversity dimension by everyone in the organisation, which we were able to profile and demonstrate, we attracted and engaged a range of diverse candidates across a plethora of diversity strands, including age, gender, race, faith & belief and disability.
From this recent snapshot of the market it was encouraging to see a truly diverse mix of candidates, but I believe if you want to attract diverse candidates you have to affirm you’re an organisation that understands the value of diversity and can demonstrate what it means to you. NJM did this and they did it well. Too often we hear a ‘requirement’ for diversity but organisations are frequently unable to demonstrate how it differentiates or benefits their operation, culture and impact. If some organisations are honest with themselves diversity often is a box ticking exercise and as such doesn’t resonate as authentic or meaningful. Is it therefore any surprise that this inhibits the attraction of a more diverse pool of candidates, with different but eminently transferable experience to bring to enrich organisations.
Interestingly the current CharityJob Diversity Report reflects this view stating that candidates want to know that they are going to work for an organisation that values diversity but few charities are showcasing their good practice. Diversity also seems to be viewed through a comparatively narrow lens by charities focusing on gender and ethnicity. Of course, we should be looking at the methodology of the recruitment process, for example, ensuring unconscious bias and discrimination is addressed, but as important is an organisation celebrating and showcasing what diversity means to them and their impact, for example diversity is often crucial to fostering innovation. Potential candidates want to understand that their experiences, backgrounds and approaches will be embraced, nurtured and valued. Without highlighting your understanding and prioritisation of diversity within your organisation you are undermining your ability to fully engage a rich and varied range of candidates to enhance your organisation’s development.
Philippa Fabry – Director of Not-for-Profit
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