Diversity and Inclusion

The Board of Trustees and everyone working at the South London Gallery are united in their support of anti-racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. We are more committed than ever to being a more inclusive organisation – enhanced through the diversity of our programmes, audiences and staff.

We care deeply about becoming more culturally diverse, in terms of our programmes, audiences, staff and board and want to thank those who have drawn attention to our failings – progress has been made in some areas but not in others, and the rate of change has been too slow. Recognising that we need to work more consistently and with greater rigour across a raft of measures, including rethinking those strategies that aren’t working, we are committed to embracing this important process with a renewed sense of energy and urgency, and in collaboration with other organisations and advisors. Not only do we want to use this opportunity to improve, to move things forward and for the SLG to become more diverse, but to be a more innovative, relevant and exciting public space than ever before.

We did not rush to publish this statement so we could carefully consider what we need to do differently going forward. We have taken time to listen, reconsider our plan of action, and ensure that our commitments can be acted upon with the integrity required. We invited all staff, the Board and an external advisor to contribute to the plan, and it is already so much richer for their input and feedback. The changes we make together will enable us to deeply root anti-racism in our DNA. To be a more inclusive organisation means better enabling staff to proactively challenge unconscious biases and to contest racism and discrimination: we are working in consultation to make the structural changes necessary to make this happen.

In spite of decades of policies to diversify the workforce in the cultural sector, and efforts we have made at the SLG, our staff team is still predominantly white. In order to drive change we will collaborate more closely with partners locally, nationally and internationally, in the cultural sector and beyond, including looking at the language we use. In this statement and our Action Plan we refer to people who come from “Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds” but acknowledge that this term is inadequate, so part of our deep reflection will involve reviewing this and then updating our Plan accordingly.

That 50% of our Board of Trustees are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds is hugely positive, yet only 12% of post-holders at Manager level and above are black. More staff below manager level are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds but many of them are on casual or fixed term contracts. We are now reviewing those contracts and our approach to traineeships. We have also learned that we need to do more to support Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff at the SLG. We have put new systems in place for all employees to more easily identify and address issues when they arise, feel comfortable to talk about them, and obtain robust support – we hope this will lead to positive change.

We are now working on merging this plan with our wider Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan – which embraces gender identity, sexuality, socio-economic background, disability, neurodiversity, health, age and religion – to ensure that intersectionality is clearly addressed. Our plan includes a great many actions and what we can do is limited by available resources. Effecting positive change is, however, an absolute priority and we have devised a schedule, plotting out actions over the coming weeks, months and years, with a view to being a distinctly more diverse organisation in every way by 2023. We will devote the necessary leadership and staff time to set goals and achieve them, proactively seeking funding to make this possible, and ensuring it remains at the top of our agenda.

Our plan is an evolving one which we will add to and adapt as a result of learning along the way, through paid focus groups, surveys, individual feedback and collaboration with other organisations. We warmly welcome your comments and contributions so please do feel free to contact us at: diversityandinclusion@southlondongallery.org

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