‘Need to diversify, but can’t find the staff?’ by Amanda Parker

As arts organisations struggle to fill critical roles, Amanda Parker shares must-dos – and must don’ts – for those hoping to recruit a talented, experienced and inclusive workforce.

Published by Arts Professional, 14th September 2021

John Carpenter’s 80s cult classic ‘They Live’ was one of the better moments of lockdown chez Parkers. There’s a moment in the film when the hero dons a pair of sunglasses which allows him to see the world as it really is – full of aliens who, hiding in plain sight as humans, have taken over the planet, and use adverts and billboards to pump subliminal messages to humans reinforcing their unwitting obedience.

It’s a satisfyingly cheesy tale, but if we were able to don those specs right now, what would we make of the arts and cultural sector’s current recruitment drive?

Perhaps the ads would read something like:

“We have a vacancy for a human sponge able to soak up the emotional frustrations of others, stay diplomatic and positive, be willing to work for a salary up to 20% less than in other sectors, in a role that has been downgraded in seniority. Your visibility will be critical to us, but your ability to influence will be limited.”

A shrinking talent pool

Recruitment of skilled, experienced people is a challenge everywhere now and in the arts and cultural sector, where the commitment to diversifying is a stated high priority for many organisations, that challenge is playing out in some very odd conversations across a swathe of organisations ranging in size, creative practice and region.

Many reading this will be well-acquainted with the pressing demand to fill vacancies for communications staff, business managers, HR and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion leads. And at the same time, many ethnically diverse staff, qualified for those roles, can tell you when they donned the John Carpenter specs and hightailed it out of the sector.

Faced with a shrinking pool of talent, it’s not surprising that demand is particularly high for skilled, ethnically diverse staff  who were already under-represented in the workforce prior to the pandemic. So what can organisations do to hire well? And how do we avoid this becoming a permanent, repeating refrain?

1.    Re-think hiring: is the rush to recruit setting up for failure?

2.    Re-think the source: do we need to appoint from a dwindling pool? Or do we need to go beyond the creative and cultural pool?

3.    Rethink how we do EDI: do you need an EDI and Inclusion Manager? Or do you need to better manage your inclusion strategy?

Read the full article HERE

Published by Arts Professional, 14th September 2021

Amanda Parker is the Director and Founder of Inc Arts UK

This article in one of a series from Inc Arts UK, a national collective that champions the creative, economic and contractual rights of the UK’s African diaspora, Asian diaspora and ethnically diverse workforce in the arts and cultural sector. Unlock is Inc Arts UK’s free anti-racism toolkit with over 130 actionable steps, tips and best practice examples of how to build sustainable change in your creative place of work. Inc Arts UK will be running free clinics for all to get advice on enacting change in your workplace. For more information visit https://incartsunlock.co.uk

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