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.

pdf buttonARC Magazine November 2020 - Diversity and Inclusion Issue

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.        

Equal Opportunities Policy

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.

The ARA Code of Ethics can be found here.      

Below are the results from our Equality Monitoring surveys.

pdf ARA Equality Monitoring summary 2012

pdf ARA Equality Monitoring summary 2013

pdf ARA Equality Monitoring summary 2014

pdf ARA Equality Monitoring summary 2015

pdf  ARA Equality Monitoring summary 2020

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.

Case Studies         

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:

pdf  Case Study 1 - Archives Services Manager

pdf  Case Study 2 - Archive Conservator


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.

pdf Diversity Surveys: Disability Report 2013 August 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:

Agoriad develops employment possibilities for disabled and disadvantaged people in North Wales
Agoriad Cyf
Tŷ Gwydr / The Greenhouse,
1 Trevelyan Terrace,
High Street, Bangor,
Gwynedd  LL57 1AX

Tel/Ffôn: 01248 361 392
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
National Autistic Society 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
+44 (0)20 7833 2299
Scope arranges voluntary and paid work placements for people with all levels of education and disability. They are currently running the Work Choice programme which covers:
1. The south east of England - Kent, Surrey and Sussex
2. North Wales – counties of Wrexham, Flintshire, Denbighshire, Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey.
3. South Cumbria
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.