Diversity Allies Leadership Committee Update

Earlier this month, the Diversity Allies Leadership Committee met for the first time. In this blog, Richard Wragg joins us to give an update on their discussions and plans for the future.

As some of you will know, the Diversity Allies Group was initially formed to undertake and then review and promote training around diversity and inclusion. We also aim to provide a point of contact for every ARA Nation and Region to help maintain good communication and to offer support where possible.

The Allies’ membership consists of colleagues from across the UK and Ireland. We came together as a non-hierarchical group and approached our own learning in a collaborative and supportive way. However, as the Diversity Allies met over several months, it was felt that more was needed, both in terms of remit and also structure.

From the outset, and as mentioned in a previous blog, several working groups were set up to focus on a range of specific themes relating to diversity and inclusion. They are:

• Accessibility
• Approaching Marginalised Communities
• Awareness Campaigns
• Collecting Policies and Representative Collecting
• Decolonising Catalogues
• External Resource and Course Review

We are now planning for the working groups to be increasingly active and, to facilitate and organise this work, the Leadership Committee was established. The Committee is formed of members from each of the working groups.

The Diversity Allies Leadership Committee will provide some direction to the work of the Allies but, crucially, it strengthens links with the ARA Board and better enables us to act as a critical friend.

At the Committee’s first meeting we agreed that we would meet every three months and our next meeting, in December, will be used to develop a strategy and plan of activities for 2022. In the meantime, the working groups will be developing ideas for what they would like to achieve. Some of this work is already underway, for example a workshop on decolonising catalogues will take place at the end of September with the intention that a resource for the recordkeeping sector will then be written and published.

At the meeting, it was reported that the Collecting Policies working group are conducting an analysis of existing policies in order to identify examples of good practice and to understand where gaps in coverage or other problems may arise. One area of the group’s future work will be to identify ways in which collecting policies can made ‘active’, sitting alongside development plans. The group are also keen to engage with records managers, particularly in relation to how retention schedules shape archive collections.

If you’re reading this and thinking of areas of activity that the Diversity Allies should promote, investigate, or where we should be active, please do get in touch. As we continue, we will seek a supporting role within the sector, albeit a proactive one. We want to build relationships and draw on the expertise that already exists.

Finally, that brings me to our email address, which I’d like to highlight: diversityandinclusion@archives.org.uk. Through this address, we can be contacted by those who would like support and advice. We can pass on comments or concerns to the ARA Board. That can be done anonymously if necessary. We can also provide more information for anyone who would like to become a Diversity Ally. We’re not a closed group so if you’re interested then please get in touch.

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