Having a staff that embodies diversity, equity, access and inclusion is essential to ensuring that your museum’s daily operations include and welcome your community, as well as helping to grow and support a changing talent pool. Board meetings rarely devote time to human resource matters as that is the role of the Director and staff to implement. To move DEAI forward to a board agenda item, the board can review your museum’s strategic plan and make sure that it addresses recruitment policies and hiring practices that supports the museum’s goals. To start the conversation, the board can ask the staff to supply baseline employee demographic data, compare it to recent census data and then work together to set targets to achieve over time the desired workforce composition.
As your board strives for DEAI, also consider reviewing compensation policies as a part of your strategic resources plan. Only by ensuring that fair compensation is included in the budget can you expect to have a financially stable staff, which is essential for their satisfaction and willingness to stay long-term. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the cost savings of long-term employees versus high staff turnover. To help set compensation policies, the board and staff can consider the recent salary surveys published by AAM (purchase) and AAMD (free) as well as costs of living in the area (see MIT’s living wage calculator here). In a time where many young people entering the field are burdened with student debt, ensuring that your museum’s salaries can reasonably cover their expenses is essential to opening your doors to applicants from different backgrounds and economic classes.
Transparent job descriptions also can help your museum recruit a more diverse candidate pool; conveying salary ranges, benefits, and time commitments in job postings can help the museum to attract the right applicants and save everyone time during the interview and hiring process. There are growing trends for job boards to give priority to positions that state compensation packages, so not including this could make your museum’s postings get lost in the shuffle and decrease your chances that a wide range of star applicants will apply.
Being realistic and up front about job requirements is essential in finding 21st century talent for your museum. This is all part of a strong DEAI-focused talent management plan. While your human resource managers will handle the details of recruitment and hiring, the board can set policies and supply realistic budgets that will ensure that the right applicants find their way to you. Transparency about your museum’s needs and a realistic perspective of the museum field’s workforce are essential to your success.
MTA members can access additional resources in our Online Resource Library, such as Diversity in the New York City Cultural Affairs Community and Arts Consulting Group’s The Three Sides of Organizational Diversity. Additionally, this article is a resource on gender equity in the museum workplace.