The Archives & Records Association (UK & Ireland) seeks to ensurethat its membership, the holdings that archives acquire and manage, andthe users whom we serve reflect the diversity of our society.
ARA Statement on Diversity
The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) (ARA) seeks to ensure that its membership, organisations that manage records, the holdings that archives acquire, preserve/conserve and manage, and the users and stakeholders that we work with and serve reflect the diversity of our society.
The ARA recognises that this commitment must be reflected in working practices at all levels of the association and therefore is enshrined within its published Equal Opportunities Policy.
In addition, the ARA it has created a Diversity Working Group to support the delivery of targeted activity in support of this statement. The working party will promote existing best practice in terms of recruitment, training, audience development, volunteering and collecting from diverse groups, etc. However, a key objective is also to consider how we can move on from this to attracting diverse groups to paid employment within the archives, records management and conservation professions.
The ARA is committed to promoting equality of opportunity for all within the world of archives, records management and archive conservation, regardless of race, colour, religious beliefs or practices, ethnic or national origin, disabilities, gender, sexuality, social background, marital status and age. In particular, the ARA is committed to encouraging equal access to education and training, employment and advancement within the profession. If members hear of situations where individuals or organisations are working against these values, please tell us.
- Equality Monitoring Form - Please consider filling in this form to help your association in this work: ARA Equality Monitoring Form
Below are the results from our Equality Monitoring surveys.
In 2014-2015, the ARA collaborated with the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) on a workforce mapping project in the wider information sector (including archives and records management). The partners commissioned Edinburgh Napier University to carry out the data collection, collation and presentation in report form, which they published in 2016 (a summary of which can be found here).
This report remains the most comprehensive assessment of its kind on the sector in the UK and Ireland, and probably anywhere in the world. Among other things, the report identified:
- A significant gender pay gap;
- Women dominating the workforce, but under-represented in senior management;
- Low ethnic diversity:
- 97.7% of those working in ‘archives’ are white;
- 97.8% of those working in ‘records’ are white.
In order to develop a better understanding of previous research and projects that had the notional aim achieving a more diverse representation in the record keeping workforce, in 2018 the ARA Board commissioned Tola Dabiri Consulting to undertake a literature and project review of such activities and policies.
The findings of Tola’s review can be accessed here showing that previous research and projects can be divided into three broad areas:
- hand wringing – identifying (and re-identifying) problems but offering nothing more than ‘something must be done’;
- hand washing – listing some attempted interventions, often as a tick-box approach, ‘this is what we have tried’;
- DIY – this is how you might do it (top-down fashion) – oh, and we’re not going to give you any resources, or ‘this is how you can do it’.
However, none of these approaches have produced any sustained change or significant increase in diversity and gender equality in the record keeping, libraries and museum workforce. There is very little evidence to suggest that the diversity or gender equality research or projects developed have involved or cooperated with communities themselves, eg Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups or women’s groups or people with disabilities and/or others, in any meaningful way at all.
The report includes important recommendations for the sector on moving away from ‘hand wringing’, ‘hand washing’ and ‘DIY’ towards sustained systematic change, including using Archives Service Accreditation processes to drive change, and widening entry routes into the sector.
The ARA is already working with The National Archives (UK) on developing Level 7 apprenticeships for recordkeepers. We are also keen to explore with Accreditation partners how equality and diversity targets could be properly embedded in Archives Service Accreditation. As Tola herself says: “there needs to be less carrot and more stick”.
Between 2012 and 2015 the ARA did a substantial amount of work around disability, including the creation of our Diversity Action Plan Disability.
We also put together two case studies relating to current practice in the employment of people with disabilities within the archives, conservation and records management sectors. We will look at producing more. The two case studies are here:
We undertook a survey to benchmark the numbers of people within the archives and records sector who consider themselves to have a disability (as defined by the Equality Act 2010) in 2012-2013.
Access to Work Scheme
This is a major UK government scheme designed to help employers meet the extra cost of employing someone with a disability, should those costs arise (we are investigating to see if equivalents exist in the Republic of Ireland). Willingness to meet such costs can be key to the successful employment of someone with a disability, and the UK government scheme was designed to remove the problem of an employee with a disability potentially being dependent on colleagues.
Access to work can provide assistance in four main areas
- Assistance with travel costs to work
- Alterations to premises
- Aids and equipment
- Human support
Access to work covers physical and sensory disabilities, mental health issues, learning difficulties and intellectual disabilities.
The costs of Access to Work for the employer depend on the length of time the employee has been employed. For new employees, Access to Work covers 100% of the costs of adjustments if the employer/employee apply for assistance within the first six weeks of the job. The longer someone has been employed by an organisation, the more the employer is expected to contribute. If you are in the UK, you can find updated advice at https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work/overview or from your local job centre as/when the need arises.
Archives and records management teams that have used the scheme have generally found it to be a very workable system, helps them to keep or provide employment to a colleague with a disability, and that it can be used to overcome the extra financial challenges that some disability adaptations might bring.
Disability Placement Providers
One way of increasing disability representation in your workforce is to offer voluntary placements to candidates with disabilities. Many charities exist to help marginalised people find work and they look to work in partnership with employment / work experience providers. If you would like to offer a placement to someone with a disability the following organisations would be pleased to help:
Tŷ Gwydr / The Greenhouse,
1 Trevelyan Terrace,
High Street, Bangor,
Gwynedd LL57 1AX
Tel/Ffôn: 01248 361 392
Journal of the Society of Archivists - Volume 25, Issue 2, 2004
Nicola Waddington: The employment of people with disabilities as archivists, records managers, conservators and assistants.
Archive work is often physically demanding and is not associated with being a practical career for people with disabilities. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), including the provisions for the employment of people with disabilities, has been in force since December 1996. This article therefore examines the liabilities and duties of all archive staff in the area of employment under the Act, looks at the motivators of change inside the structures within which many archives operate and examines some of the successes and failures of offices which already employ people with disabilities. Advice and ideas for ways forward in complying with this Act and opening up the profession for all are also included. The general aim of the article is to raise awareness and spread confidence but it is not intended as a definitive legal guide.
Sam Collenette, ARA Board Member, Portfolio Inclusion presentation: Diversity - What is happening in a record office near you?
- Andrew James, Diversity Working Group member - Summary of PSQG disability findings from 2011 visitor’s survey report.
Heritage Lottery Fund (October 2012) - Making your project accessible for disabled people - Good-practice guidance This guidance will help you think about how to improve every aspect of your heritage project so that disabled people can engage as fully as non-disabled people. It provides good practice relating to capital works and activities and will be useful to all sizes and type of project across all of the HLF grant programmes.
Presentation by Nicola Waddington to CILIP'S Community, Diversity and Equality Group.
- Arts Council England: Diversity & Access the Creative Case
- CILIP: Community Diversity & Equality Group.
- The Network: Tackling Social Exclusion in Libraries, Museums, Archives & Galleries
Disability & Industrial Society: UKDHM blog
The Disability Portfolio, published by Resource, was designed as a collection of twelve guides on how best to meet the needs of disabled people as users and staff in museums, archives and libraries, giving advice, information and guidance to help overcome barriers and follow good practice. Eleven of these guides are accessible below:
- Disability in Context
- Meeting Disabled People
- Training for Equality
- Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
- Inclusive Information
- Using Technology - To be added shortly.
- Access on a Shoestring
- Accessible Environments
- Outreach and Partnerships
- Consulting Disabled People
- Employment at Every Level
Please note that these guides were published between 2003 and 2004 and may not reflect current legislation.
In 2005, The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council produced this Disability Access Self-assessment Toolkit for Museums, Libraries and Archives .