The Diversity programme ran from 1998 to 2011 and a new report into the initiative has found 90 per cent of participants gained work in museums after they completed their training.
It was originally launched to make museum careers more accessible for people from black, Asian and minority-ethnic backgrounds, but later it was expanded to include disabled people, as well as those on a low income.
The Museums Association’s (MA’s) report – Diversify: reflections and recommendations -stated that although a lot of progress was made in the 13 years the programme ran for, there is still a lot of work to be done to improve diversity in the workforce in museums.
Director of the MA Mark Taylor said: “Diversify was a scheme we can all be proud of and it had real influence on individuals and the places where those individuals worked. But ultimately we must be judged on whether the concepts behind Diversify are mainstream throughout the sector and I still think we have quite a long way to go.”
He pointed out that the next stage for the programme is to recognise workforce diversity covers all areas of the population and is “intimately related to audience diversity”.
Maurice Davies, head of policy and communication at the MA, added that while 98 per cent of Diversify participants stated the programme had either been very important or important to them starting a career in the museum sector, the industry’s workforce as a whole remains nowhere near as diverse as it ought be.
Bursaries and master’s degree training were used in the scheme to improve access to museum careers for disabled individuals and people from black, Asian and minority-ethnic backgrounds.
Businesses could take inspiration from the overwhelming success of the Diversify scheme by launching their own bursaries to train up ethnic minority workers and disabled people.
Companies in all kinds of sectors could follow in the footsteps of the museums industry to improve access for those on low incomes by setting up traineeships for people who may have had no family tradition of higher education or professional work.