Diversity and inclusion at the Museum

Museums are places for society to come together, reflect and discuss, but they can only be so if they are inclusive of the society within which they sit. We have a lot of work to do in diversifying our workforce, audiences, and the way we understand and talk about our collection.

The founding of the Natural History Museum and its collection are intimately connected to Britain's colonial past. In holding collections that represent multiple ways of understanding the world and speaking to the past we must avoid presenting narrow, exclusionary visions of our history.

The Museum's wildlife garden

We are working to make the Museum buildings, collections, grounds, website and science as inclusive and welcoming as possible.

 

Our commitments

We are focused on creating a more diverse workforce across all levels of the organisation and a workplace where everyone feels included and valued.

It is crucial that our Diversity Working Group evolves and continues to be a voice for all members of our workforce, and we need to ensure that there is appropriate oversight and governance of Museum action on diversity and inclusion, holding management to account.

We will be exploring how to encourage people to think about careers in museums and science, especially those who are underrepresented in our workforce.

We will do more to review our recruitment process to ensure we are reaching underrepresented groups and make sure that everyone who applies to work at the Museum is assessed fairly and appropriately. When people join us, we will do more to make them feel supported and welcomed and to give them the right career development to realise their potential.

What we have achieved so far

  • In January 2020 we launched a new strategy with diversity with as one of our four critical values. We have already started to improve understanding of issues around diversity and inclusion, reach underrepresented audiences, achieve greater diversity in our workforce, better develop the careers of underrepresented groups, and tackle bias that holds back colleagues' careers.
  • Through the Urban Nature Project we are engaging with a broader range of audiences who may feel the Museum is not for them, but we realise there is much more we should be doing. We have embedded an inclusive design approach to all exhibitions, consulting directly with neurodiverse audiences, those with visual and hearing impairments, and others with a range of disabilities that may affect the way they engage with us.  
  • In 2019, an influential paper authored by staff examined the issues of museum collections linked to colonial histories. We have now started a review to understand, acknowledge and address the history of our collection and institution, including how the collections came into being, where they were collected from, who was involved and what the impacts were.
  • We trialled an in-gallery tour for visitors that recognises the contributions of indigenous and Black people to the world of science and natural history, as well as LGBTQ+ themed tours, highlighting the stories about the Museum and the natural world that are often overlooked or historically hidden.
  • Dawnosaurs is our on-site and online programme for children and young people with neuro-diverse conditions and for D/deaf audiences a programme of Deaf-led tours. It has benefitted from some additional funding, allowing us to continue to provide this resource.
  • We are conducting a review of names and representation across our buildings and website, and this is making good progress. Angela Saini, British science journalist and author, has joined the steering group to give an external perspective. As part of this ongoing work we have formalised the principles we work under. This work helps us acknowledge the full history of our immense collection, introduce broader perspectives on it and better communicate and share information about it.
  • Our website has been updated to enure it is as accessible as possible, and we will continue to improve it further. For more information, read our website accessibility statement
  • A new Head of Diversity and Talent has been appointed, who will take the lead in creating a working environment which is truly inclusive and in diversifying our workforce.
  • We have begun changing how we recruit, select and develop the careers of people who work for the Museum. Since April 2020, we have advertised as many roles as possible internally only, to allow for promotion. We know there is far greater diversity, particularly in terms of ethnicity, in our lower grade jobs so we want to offer opportunities for promotion wherever we can. Since April 2020 40% of roles have been offered to internal candidates.
  • We have used our staff survey to improve our understanding of the perspectives and experiences of our staff. We now know more about diversity in our workforce. The number of staff declaring a disability has risen from 3% to 5.1%.
  • We are increasing our own education and training, with new courses for staff on Access and Equality, Trans Awareness and Gender Diversity. Training in Tackling Racism in the Workplace is next.

Last updated 22 February 2021.

Slavery and the natural world

Explore research into how the Museum's history and collections are connected to the transatlantic slave trade.

Read more about our progress

Hear from Clare Matterson, Executive Director of Engagement at the Museum, as she reflects on efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in her blog.