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Authenticity Comes First in Equitable Museum Workplaces

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  1. Starting with your employee handbook: Looking at the language. Might it affect one demographic differently than another? Can you fix it?

  2. Does your museum have a values statement? If so, how do you use it to guide daily practice? If not, why not?

  3. Do your rules about personal leave apply to everyone equitably? For example, are family leave -- human leave -- available equitably, because life comes at us all fast? And do you permit personal time that recognizes not all of us celebrate the same holidays at the same time? A small thing, but a nod that your organization embraces and supports difference.

  4. Are rules about promotion and professional development transparent?

  5. How are new ideas heard? How hard is it for an idea to make its way from the hourly staff to the salaried staff? If it's challenging does that reinforce the idea that salaried staff are the idea makers? Where is the inequity in that? Museum workplaces are microcosms of the wider world. As a leader you and your board have the opportunity to create and shape an organizational culture that is human-centered and fair. In many ways the workplace you create has a profound impact on the way your organization appears in the world. (If you need an example of what an organization looks like that neglects values and does not keep its staff safe, seen and supported, look no further than the Philadelphia Museum of Art, fast becoming the poster child for an unethical work environment.) You can't control each and every staff person's behavior, but you can create a place where staff feel respected and nurtured. So build human-centered policies, and don't let them languish. Apply them and watch your staff flourish. Joan Baldwin Image: Museum of Happiness

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