Skip to content

By Science Museum Group on

Mindset shift required in recruitment

We want everyone to feel at home in the Science Museum Group’s sites, whether as colleagues or as visitors to our five museums, and there’s evidence to show that some people don’t see their identities reflected among our workforce and some content.

Our workforce doesn’t reflect the communities where our sites are based.

That’s true whether you look at ethnicity, disability, socio-economic background, gender or educational background. We’re far from alone in our sector in facing these challenges, which should make us more, not less, determined to lead change.

We recently refreshed our Open For All Strategy, which addresses both our work with audiences and of internal focus on our people and our culture.

We’ve taken many steps to build a more inclusive culture, but when it comes to diversifying our workforce we have not made enough progress.

It’s simply not good enough to say we don’t attract candidates from a different range of backgrounds, we have to work harder to shift perceptions so that people who wouldn’t previously have considered us see the Science Museum Group as an inclusive organisation they would want to work for.

We also need to look critically at our own hiring practices, and importantly how far we value transferable skills, qualities and potential over experience. This requires a radical mindset shift as people all too often look for evidence of comparable experience to be assured that the candidate will succeed in role.

A bold approach to hiring is needed if we are serious about addressing diversity in our organisation – and the wider sector – seeking out skills and attributes that will add to our organisation, rather than simply replicating what we already have.

Employers, including ourselves, all too often think about entry level change when considering how to broaden diversity, and it’s important that we also work on building our pipeline for future employment by encouraging young people to consider the culture sector as a place to work.  But we need to make change at all levels, and particularly in positions of influence with decision-making responsibility.

This month, leaders from across the Science Museum Group gathered for a day focused on how we can grow a diverse workforce. Beginning with an overview of the urgent need for action from our Director and Chief Executive, Ian Blatchford, followed by an enlightening introduction to the science of bias by our key note speaker, Riham Satti, our leaders were challenged to consider how we can hire on the basis of potential, not simply on experience.

Through practical discussions and workshops, our leaders gained knowledge and confidence in how to achieve change that we know won’t happen overnight. Crucially, we committed to working differently, from understanding the biases that can impact selection, to widening interview panels and offering transparent feedback to candidates as well as opening up our sector through work placements in our teams.

We know we have much work to do, and have started by better understanding our workforce data so that we can focus our efforts in a targeted way and we have set out our aspirations that by 2026 we will:

  • Increase the completion rate of our diversity data from 77% to a minimum of 90%
  • Increase representation of employees from ethnic minority backgrounds (excluding white minorities) from 13% to a minimum of 20%
  • Increase Disability representation among our employees from 7.3% to a minimum of 12%
  • We will continue to monitor socio economic background and seek to increase our completion rates