Defined in AAM’s recent report Facing Change: Insights from AAM’s Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Working Group as “all the ways that people are different and the same at the individual and group levels,” diversity is not just a matter of ethnic background. Economic class, gender, age, and family status are important factors, as are areas of expertise, skills, and personality styles.
Keeping track of all of these factors can be a challenge, especially considering the number of board members you may have. MTA does not recommend a specific number of board members; rather, we encourage you to evaluate your museum’s community, needs, and influencers when determining the number of seats at your board table.
So how do you keep track of all of these factors? Self-identification is a great first step. Your museum’s director or board liaison may not be able to identify the accurate categorizations for every one of your board members. In MTA’s Building Museum Boards, part of our Templates for Trustees series, we encourage board members to fill out and submit to their museum an Individual Board Member Profile. This gives board members the opportunity to provide their own information, which lets them choose how they will be categorized by the museum in the board matrix.
The Individual Board Member Profile comes pre-populated with demographic questions to collect data on everything from the number of volunteer hours someone can contribute to board member’s areas of influence in the community. Everything in this template can be customized, so you are able to add additional categories depending on your areas of concern. The online application portion of Building Museum Boards compiles this information and creates charts and graphs to help Directors, Chairs, and the full board to see trends and gaps in board diversity.
Taking the time to gather accurate information and compile it in a digestible way is an essential step towards evaluating and improving your board’s diversity.
As you consider your current board, your ideal board, and the steps you need to take to bridge gaps between the two, keep the DEAI definitions in mind. Summer is a great time for boards and staff to work together to plan their next board cycle.
Diversity: all the ways that people are different and the same at individual and group levels.
Equity: fair and just treatment of all members of a community.
Accessibility: providing equitable access to everyone, regardless of their abilities and experience.
Inclusion: the intentional, ongoing effort to value and respect all individuals, as well as making consistent efforts to include diverse individuals in your circle.