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Cornwall Museums Partnership

Our Journey to More Diverse and Inclusive Recruitment

Last year, together with a group of our partner museums, we were incredibly fortunate to work with The Inclusivity Project in addressing how we recruited – to make our processes more inclusive and accessible. As part of this project, we were partnered with researcher Lucy Szaboova, with whom we co-designed two workshops. The first workshop was designed to provide a psychologically safe and collegiate platform for our museums to discuss and explore the challenges they face, as small museums in a rural setting, in recruiting to diversify their teams. During the second workshop, we were joined by speakers Tamsin Russell from the Museums Association and Clare Harris from the Beacon Project who shared examples of best practice and guidance. Following their presentations, we delved into ways that our challenges could be flipped into opportunities for making changes and improvements. We culminated this aspect of the project by co-curating a set of aspirations to provide a practical framework for realising those changes and improvements.  

Lucy used the discussions and findings from our workshops to write a summary and recommendations report. We subsequently worked with the brilliantly efficient and creative Communications Specialist, Kerri Hall, and Copywriter, Karen Griffiths, to translate the report into an infographic; which the talented illustrator Elly Jahnz brought to life with her beautiful and impactful design and illustrations.  

You can view the infographic on the Resource Hub here.

'Our aspirations for diversity and inclusion'.


Off the back of our work with The Inclusivity Project, I was keen to explore how we could utilise best practice and replicate it within our recruitment for Internships and the Trainee Curators Programme; with the ultimate objective of diversifying the museum sector and providing more accessible entry-level positions. Following consultations with The Teaching MuseumA New Direction and Skills for Success to see how they best attracted and supported diverse candidates, I was able to collate some key suggestions and points of learning which reflected and complemented our work with Lucy: 

  • Reflect on why it is that you want to embrace equality, diversity and inclusion because these will resonate with people in different ways. Tamsin Russell from the MA suggests your driver(s) could be any of the following: for legal compliance, for funding compliance, for ethical and moral practice or for better business outcomes. 
  • Everyone is starting from a different position. Take stock of your organisation by finding ways to ask and understand: “Where are we now? How diverse is our current workforce? Which voices and perspectives are not being represented in our organisation?” 
  • Be as flexible and open to new ways of doing things as possible by: 
    • Challenging your assumptions of what experience and qualifications are really needed to fulfil a role;
    • Offering alternative ways for people to apply for a job, rather than a traditional application form; 
    • Considering offering guaranteed interviews for certain groups of people (but ensure you make the qualifying details about this clear at the point of application); 
    • Offering alternative reasonable arrangements for interview, should a candidate need them; 
    • and, if you recruit someone with additional needs, find ways to best support them. Start by asking them what they need. 
  • Update the language and images being used on your website, social media and printed publications so that more people can see and hear themselves being represented. 
  • Widen your applicant search: share your job vacancy in places you never have before and research the best ways and places to reach specific groups you’ve identified as being under-represented in your organisation.
  • If you are open and willing to offer adaptations for people who need them, make sure you communicate that in your job advertisement. 
  • Develop and nurture a culture where everyone feels comfortable to bring their whole selves to work. 
  • To ensure you are creating an inclusive and safe working environment, find ways to confront and extinguish any bias or discrimination within your workforce. Be explicit about what is not acceptable. 
  • Appreciate that any changes you make, no matter how small they may be, are positive steps forward. 
  • Although it’s not necessarily going to be an easy or quick journey, it will be worth it! 

So, as a result of this work, what have we done at CMP?

Last year we appointed a Digital Marketing Intern and addressed multiple areas of our recruitment by taking the following steps: 

  1. We reviewed our job description and questioned what essential experience and qualifications were required. This resulted in us specifying none! Instead, we focused on the skills and values which best represented the role and working at CMP. 
  2. We updated our application form by removing any unnecessary sections to make it as easy to navigate and complete as possible. 
  3. We produced a film to describe the role, introduce our organisation and demonstrate the practicalities of where and how we work; not only to explain the role in an alternative way but so that potential candidates got a real feel for who we are and to help them see whether we might be the right organisation for them. 
  4. We produced a guide to accompany the job description with practical steps to help applicants in preparing their application. 
  5. We made it explicit within our advert and job description that we were keen to hear from people who could bring new perspectives to our team and that we would do what was possible to make adaptations to support candidates with specific needs. 
  6. We updated and took our equal opportunities form to a digital form so that we could more efficiently analyse who applied and identify candidates we weren’t attracting.  
  7. We removed all personal data from the applications so that the shortlisting panel could score them blindly and not be influenced by any unconscious bias they might have had. 
  8. We offered guaranteed interviews for people with a disability or long-term health condition and/or people who are care experienced (although, we offered this a little in haste and could have done things differently to make it more effective).  
  9. We shared the job advert through networks new to us (again, we may have missed some opportunities by not leaving ourselves enough time). 
  10. We shared the interview questions with applicants ahead of their interview so that they felt better prepared and to avoid any unnecessary discomfort during the interview. 

For the recruitment of our Innovation Manager this year, we were inspired by discussions we had been having with tech company, Bluefruit, about their recruitment practices. We took a more radical approach by asking all applicants to submit a task-based application and removed the traditional application form altogether. This was again scored blind to remove any unconscious bias. Then, ahead of the interview stage, we carried out a skills assessment of our Management Team to identify what specific skills and strengths we would need the successful candidate to fulfil and this was then applied to the interview.  

More widely within the organisation we have undertaken the following activities in our approach to diversity and inclusion: we have produced a variation of the equal opps form to capture demographical data of our current workforce, board, consultants and extended workforce; so that we can better understand the diversity of our existing workforce and use it as a baseline. Last year, as an urgent action following the global outcry of Black Lives Matter, we developed an Equity Action Plan and have shared it publicly on Trello as a way to hold ourselves accountable to the campaign. Our CEO, Emmie, joined the Clore Leadership Programme’s Inclusive Cultures programme and her learning is being shared with the wider management team. Our Office Manager has also recently undertaken ACAS’s ‘Inclusive workplaces – making changes to better support neurodiversity’ and AbilityNet’s ‘How to develop accessible, inclusive recruitment’ – the learning from which is informing a number of our plans and procedures. We are currently in the process of building a new website and have ensured that accessibility has taken precedence at every stage. And finally, we are testing ways of applying the direct learning from our work with the Inclusivity Project in a collaborative approach to the recruitment of the next cohort of Trainee Curators at several partner museums. 

And, what’s next for CMP? 

Although we’ve made quite a few changes in the past year, and are proud of how far we’ve already come, we know that we still have a long way to go and will be continually addressing everything that we do – including our recruitment.

You can view Tamsin’s workshop on inclusive recruitment here and a complete list of inclusivity resources here.

– Jenna Marrion, Data and Insight Manager

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