Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the V&A

The principles of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) are critical to creating the V&A we all want to see – a museum that reflects the cultural and demographic complexity of those we serve through our collections, programmes, our audiences and – at every level – our staff and partnerships. The V&A should be a progressive and fair place to work, and we strive to make those who visit or work with us welcome. To achieve this, we review continuously our existing structures and practices to address any potential areas of concern, and to ensure that we are being effective in defining and making changes.

Our EDI strategy

The V&A aims to become a truly open, tolerant and diverse organisation: a place where everyone feels welcome. We recognise this means doing more to foster an inclusive culture, both for our people and our visitors.

We are entering an exciting period of growth. We will need to change in many areas, including making demonstrable progress in equality, diversity and inclusion. In planning for growth, we recognise the importance of equity, the value of difference, and the need to ensure that many different voices and perspectives can help shape our future. To make this happen, we want to be proactive in recognising and removing any barriers that people may face in accessing our collection, services and employment.

In 2022 we developed a comprehensive 3-year, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy covering all functions of the organisation.

The strategy is monitored by performance indicators throughout the year and annually. We also benchmark against industry standards.

Our strategic approach spans three broad areas: People, Programmes and Place, each supported by specific key strategic objectives:

People

We are committed to promoting EDI through all our practices – our people, our audiences, our collection and our programmes – and integrating these values consistently and naturally into all our activities. We are committed to making change, and sustaining the effort required to become a truly diverse organisation with an inclusive culture.

For the V&A 'Our people' means many groups, including employees, volunteers, partners, contractors, work-experience students and apprentices. For more information on working at the V&A or other ways to get involved please look at our recruitment pages.

Objectives

We aim to become an organisation that:

  • harnesses the best talent irrespective of background and successfully reaches out to communities with whom we have not fully engaged before.
  • actively seeks, welcomes, and gives agency to all, including people from different backgrounds to bring new approaches, skills, and creativity.
  • is a safe space for everyone to grow and be their best.
  • is brave and addresses the challenges that come with trying to be a fully open and equitable organisation.
  • takes an evidence-led approach to answer questions including 'Do we represent, listen to and understand the needs of the communities we serve?'
  • listens to lived experience.
  • sets the sector standard for a truly diverse and inclusive organisation.
  • an organisation where we become an 'employer of choice' in an increasingly competitive market.
  • holds our values and behaviours as key foundations of how we treat one another.

We will work towards these objectives through three workstreams:

Inclusive culture

  • Increase awareness and understanding by staff at all levels of EDI issues.
  • Further develop effective EDI communications to all our people with an aim to building an inclusive workplace culture.

Inclusive leadership

  • Senior leadership and all managers sponsor EDI workforce governance and departmental delivery of local EDI action plans.
  • Senior leaders and all managers role model EDI behaviours and attitudes.

Workforce diversity

  • Improve the diverse representation of the workforce at all levels and roles.
  • Better understand barriers facing our existing and our potential employees with disabilities.

Programmes

We will deliver a programme of exhibitions, displays, events, festivals, talks and interventions that truly reflects the interests and needs of our audiences and builds connections in a meaningful way. By listening to those who visit and those who don't yet, as well as experts across a range of disciplines, we will develop content that explores diverse narratives and themes with depth and integrity.

Our curatorial structure and activity will promote equity, diversity and a commitment to an inclusive museum. We will expand our acquisitions remit to shape a broader and more balanced collection, and we will continue to play an active role in discussions around restitution.

We aim to:

  • Reflect new narratives and new voices in our public programme
  • Address themes that are relevant to our audiences today and in the future
  • Introduce content and collections that represent a truly global past and present
  • Provide honest and accurate information about the making, acquisition and use of the objects we own and display
  • Host events, talks and conversations that allow genuine communication and exploration of different perspectives

We will achieve this through three workstreams:

Collaborative curation

  • We will work with experts and those with a vast range of lived experience to develop content that is meaningful and relevant for our audiences
  • Innovative collecting: we will build the nation's collection to be truly representative of the public it belongs to, and to be truly global in its scope, reflected in our Acquisitions Policy
  • Expansive interpretation: we will embrace new narratives, themes and research to truly interrogate the material we explore, using appropriate and respectful language

Place

We will create sites and spaces that invite and welcome everyone to enjoy the V&A on their own terms. By genuinely considering and responding to the interests and needs of our audiences, we will make sure our buildings are safe, comfortable, open and inspiring for all. Through early consultation and innovative design at our new sites, and focused assessment and careful adaptation of our heritage buildings, we will ensure our spaces offer truly spectacular experiences for all.

We aim to:

  • Remove physical, social, operational and intellectual barriers to entry
  • Create spaces of comfort, agency and inspiration
  • Provide unique and outstanding encounters with the designed world for every visitor

We will achieve this through:

  • Consultation, collaboration and co-design with visitors and non-visitors
  • Introducing new ways of operating that focus on the needs of visitors
  • Investing in the necessary fabric, infrastructural and operational changes

We undertake an annual EDI audit as a benchmark indicator of progress accountable to Executive Board and Board of Trustees, with related metrics across the recommendations.

Further updates on our work are available on our blog and social media channels.

Embedding EDI at the V&A

To ensure that our strategy has impact and longevity we have set out an internal governance structure that supports the voices of all of our diverse employees to be heard at a senior leadership level. We have employee groups including the Anti-Racism Taskforce, Disability Action Group, LGBTQ+ Working Group and many more. These are supported by the Inclusivity Forum.