Diversity and Inclusion at Cultural Institutions

Across the nation – and globally – institutions and local governments are seeking new and more meaningful approaches to inclusion and diversity. Too often, these challenges are seen primarily through the lens of human resources and compliance metrics, and miss the profound reality that inclusion is a subjective “felt” experience that, when more fully understood and appreciated, can lay the foundation for a more inclusive institution and community. As we have learned in our 25 years of experience around the world, shifting a deeply entrenched organizational culture is challenging, but possible.  Such change requires the engagement of individuals within institutions and with leaders across the community in a dedicated process that is defined by transparency, accountability and inclusion.  We have also seen time and again, particularly at the outset, that it is essential to design a process that is intentionally inclusive and meaningful to participants as a prerequisite for addressing difficult and sensitive issues. Without such a purposely designed process, particularly in communities with vastly different power relationships, narratives and mistrust, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to build agreement around key issues and the buy-in necessary to implement strategies to address them. Beyond Conflict is currently working with several leading cultural institutions to strengthen and deepen their commitment to inclusion and diversity. We help design and implement an internal process that is purposely and strategically structured to be inclusive and lay the foundation for re-establishing trust, giving voice to new stakeholders, and beginning to break down some of the traditional siloes that naturally exist within institutions. Establishing meaningful connections to the diverse external communities that surround these institutions is also a priority. We help create community engagement programs with real impact, while also implementing evaluation metrics to assess exhibits, programming and the overall visitor experience to ensure these organizations are creating an inclusive experience for a diverse array of audiences.