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Cornwall Museums Partnership

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Small Rural Museums

Paving the Way for Diversity and Inclusion [please see PDF below for full text]

Paving the Way for Diversity and Inclusion [please see PDF below for full text]

You can also view the infographic as a PDF here: Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Small Rural Museums PDF


Our Diversity and Inclusivity Aspirations    

During our Inclusivity Project sessions with Lucy Szaboova from the University of Exeter, we identified five aspirations to guide our diversity and inclusion work. The following table outlines these aspirations and highlights some non-specific but indicative activities that we could undertake to create positive change. 

What are our aspirations?  How can we get there? 
1. To be aware of who we are as an organisation to shape diversity and inclusion.  



Assess where our starting point is. 

Understand the diversity of our workforce. 

Provide training to improve understanding.  

2. To challenge the status quo to meet our goals, be flexible and seek new approaches.  




Confront our assumptions. 

Review and update job specifications regularly. 

Place job adverts in varied places and formats. 


3. Promote open and honest communication and champion accessible recruitment processes.  



Make ourselves more approachable. 

Improve accessibility of job applications. 

Capture a diversity of voices and stories.  


4. Recruit differently by embracing inclusive approaches to support new and more applicants.  




Promote unbiased recruitment processes. 

Adapt to inclusive interview practices. 

Provide staff training to embrace change. 


5. Zero tolerance to discrimination across all levels and aspects of our workplace practices.  




Be explicit with our intentions. 

Embed diversity and inclusion in our values.  

Promote openness, honesty and awareness.  



Below is additional context relating to what we discussed in our sessions.

 1. Being aware of who we are as an organisation 

This shapes what your goals are and what you need to do as an organisation to become more diverse and inclusive: “everyone’s version of what they need is not going to look the same”.  How you can become more diverse and inclusive depends on what your initial make-up is, what your starting point is.  

Reflecting on one’s position should also involve recognising some of the barriers to diversity and inclusivity and the limitations to addressing these. What actions can we take to minimise barriers and who should be involved in these? For example, governance has been highlighted as a key limiting factor, which can constrain the agency museum directors/senior managers to have to shape the recruitment process. A key gap in this area is the lack of understanding at the governance level about what diversity and inclusivity mean in a workplace setting and how can it be promoted. Training could address this gap.   

2. Challenge the status quo 

While job adverts and role specifications often replicate what was in place in the past, it may not be what we currently need, as the organisation and the job role may have changed in the meantime. We should, therefore, scrutinise taken for granted assumptions about what is required for a role. For example, do we need someone with a specific qualification or experience in a particular area, or are we requesting these because the previous person in that role had them? An alternative approach is to start from scratch and use the recruitment process as an opportunity to review the role in order to encourage a more diverse pool of applicants into museum workplaces, as well as to make it more responsive to the evolving goals and values of the organisation.  

3. Promote open and honest communication  

Improving the language, messaging and positioning of job adverts can facilitate access to museum jobs, including for those who would not usually consider applying. Providing an honest and relatable account of what it is like to work/volunteer in a museum, the diverse nature of the work and the kind of support that is available could attract a more diverse pool of applicants. Innovative ways of conveying this messaging should be considered, such as recording vlogs that afford a glimpse into the ‘behind the scenes’ life of a museum.  

Job descriptions and job adverts could be more explicit about the balance between different aspects of a role, for example, by setting out what candidates would be expected to do as part of their day-to-day tasks and what they might be asked to do occasionally. The placement of job adverts is also an important consideration, because where you advertise and which channels you use, decides who the advert is visible to and thus who applies.  

 4. Recruit differently 

While a lot of attention is devoted to improving language, messaging and the positioning of job adverts, the job interview can also act as a point of exclusion for many applicants. Embracing alternative techniques to recruitment, especially at the interview stage, can be crucial for making the interview process more inclusive for a diverse range of candidates and this can also benefit the organisations who get a better sense of the skills and abilities of prospective staff and volunteers.  

Cornish museums have already tested some alternative approaches, such as asking people to send in a video as part of their application or interviewing people online. However, participants recognised that more can be done in this regard at all stages of the recruitment process. Interviews could be re-imagined, involving group sessions and various activities instead of the conventional question and answer format. However, it was also recognised that these would only work and create the desired positive effect if recruiting managers/staff had the confidence and right skills to facilitate such sessions. These could be acquired by investing in training.  

 5. Zero tolerance to discrimination 

Applying a zero-tolerance policy to discrimination across all levels of the organisation and across all aspects of workplace practices (i.e. recruitment, retention, promotion) will require the explicit articulation of what that means for each organisation and how will it be monitored and implemented. In order to successfully implement zero tolerance, it needs to go hand-in-hand with building awareness among management, board members and staff about differences and different ways of working. 


If you have any further questions about this resource and our work on inclusive recruitment, please get in touch with our Data and Insight Manager, Jenna Marrion, at

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