Salary challenge

Maggie Appleton, 31.10.2017
The Salary Guidelines are a powerful tool
Like many in the museums world, I’ve been waiting in anticipation for the Museums Association’s (MA) Salary Guidelines to be published.

As a sector we benefit hugely from people who are dedicated, passionate and highly skilled. But the pay and benefits we offer can be modest, to say the least, and, like many other charities and non-profits, we rely on the fact that museum people care about what they do in order to attract the calibre of people we need to fulfil our creative ambitions for our audiences.

Equally, the salary challenge also means that many of us have key posts - mainly business development-type roles - that we struggle to fill because we are competing for talent with the wider leisure, tourism and commercial worlds. When the need is for us all to improve our self-generated income, we can be at a distinct disadvantage.

At the Royal Air Force Museum we are examining all our pay and benefits over the next six months and an early scan of the guidelines has already shown how useful they are going to be in conjunction with the UK Living Wage guidance. Some of our roles benchmark positively while others are at the lower end of the spectrum.

The salary comparisons are, of course, internal to the sector and these guidelines alone won’t be able to fix all our recruitment and retention challenges.

However, they are a touchpoint and test-point that will enable us to benchmark against others and will be an invaluable platform to work from. By understanding the pay range and where we sit within it, this piece of work will be a powerful tool for us if we choose to wield it.

So let’s all of us use the Salary Guidelines where we can to help ensure that the ethical principles we hold so dear in museums also stand up to scrutiny when we are considering our people.

Maggie Appleton is the director of the Royal Air Force Museum and vice president of the Museums Association