Minority ethnic staff still under-represented

Patrick Steel, 16.09.2010
MA report finds collections-related jobs to be particularly unrepresentative
A report into the diversity of the UK’s museum workforce by Maurice Davies, the MA’s head of policy and communications, and Lucy Shaw, the MA’s Diversify coordinator, has found that black and minority ethnic (BME) groups are still under-represented in museums.

The report found that, in the fifteen years from 1993-2008, the proportion of minority-ethnic people working in UK museums has almost trebled, from 2.5% to 7%, and in national museums the proportion in 2006 was almost 11%. However this is against a background of a rising general population of BME groups, increasing from 5.5% to 12% over the same period.

Only around 5% of collections-related jobs are held by people from BME backgrounds, while the numbers in management jobs are even lower.

The Museums Association’s Diversify programme, which has run since 1998, ended earlier this year, and the hope is that UK museums are now at a stage where workforce diversification can be integrated with museum policy as a matter of course.

Maurice Davies, the MA’s head of policy and communications, said “Representation has got better, but it has not got better quickly enough. Particularly in collections-related jobs there is massive under-representation of back and minority ethnic groups. It is astonishing that even when including front of house jobs there is still under-representation.

”The efforts of the past few years have had some effect but there is still some way to go. I think museums have the tools to take diversity on, but I worry that it will slip to a lower priority as museums and funding bodies are financially up against it.

“Museums have to integrate diversity with other things so that it is not on the periphery.”

To download the report, please click here (word)

For more about Diversify, please click here