I was apart of an all-woman focus group recently discussing the lack of diversity in senior positions in theatres, more specifically Artistic Directors. With the diversity row still in full effect, this group were invited to look at a well known NPO’s job application pack for the role of Head of Artistic Programme. We were asked to critique the application pack and give our thoughts and opinions on research that shows that there are not enough diversity in decision-making positions within theatres.
Straight away what came up was one women felt that groups who are ‘all black’ or ‘all female’ for example did not show progression and would not lead to significant change. I spoke up and said that for example an organisation such as Artistic Directors of the Future, need to existent as there needs to be a sense of empowerment that those involved and members of, need to feel. Not only that, a collective can be progressive especially using the adage of strength in numbers. What I did agree with was that some inclusive groups hold meetings and it feels like a lot of ranting and venting rather than positive actions and solutions. I have been in discussions where coming together has left me with a excitement and a sense of achievement. I have felt inspired that women who look like me are ready to fight for the cause and make a difference. But I also feel inspired when I hear from other types of people who aren’t like me. I know I can hold my own if I’m in a room with these people and not feel intimidated.
What I contributed was that I had issue with the word diversity. I want to know an organisations agenda when they state that they want to diversify their workforce. Is that just to tick a few boxes? If organisations were truthful and said that they know that BAME (another term I have issue with)/female/disabled/homosexual people are underrepresented and that they want to reflect society, then fine. Let’s cut the crap and tell it like it is. The application we had to look into works with a marginalised group of people and they discovered that their staff are not representative to their users. Again, be honest and say in the application – “we’ve screwed up. We want to get this right and we need help to do it.” This shows progression. This shows change. This is what is needed.