Introduction to inclusion

What is inclusive practice?

  • Inclusion is about nurturing a sense of belonging for as many people as possible. In recordkeeping, this means:
  • Opening up access to the records by identifying and addressing the barriers that users and the workforce face
  • Working with others to improve our records management and storytelling in a way that enables participants to bring about meaningful change
  • Enriching our workforce, users, and collections through diversity of thought and experience.
  • Inclusive practice is about ways of working that support an inclusive service.

Why is inclusive practice important?

  • The Moral case: Archives are for everyone because they are about everyone. Inclusion is the right thing to do: to enrich people’s lives and to share opportunities and information
  • The Business case: Diversity makes sense for economic resilience, creative problem-solving, diversifying income streams and staying relevant. Diversity is maintained through inclusive environments.
  • The Justice case: Access to heritage is a human right. Erasure and marginalisation have harmed many people and readdressing imbalances, discrimination and silencing through inclusive practice is a matter of righting wrongs.
  • The Democratic case: Archives need to earn and nurture trust in the care and management of our records. Archives also need to be functional as tools for democracy and transparency, should that trust be questioned. Inclusive practice allows archives to develop this trust.

Inclusive principles

  • Ensure that your organisation’s commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is visible and that it is understood across the organisation
  • Understand your digital offer and physical offer and who these may reach
  • Create a physical space that is appropriate for people’s needs. Examples include ensuring there is sufficient seating for people to rest, incorporating cafes and/or picnic areas, ensuring there is appropriate space to move and manoeuvre, making sure toilets and changing facilities are as accessible as possible, and making sure there is a space or plan for those who may feel overwhelmed.
  • Have people available for assistance and information
  • Provide support for the physical and mental wellbeing of staff and users
  • Share information in advance and in different formats for different access requirements
  • Gain explicit consent around data collection and be trustworthy in managing this
  • Ask yourself ‘Is the effort needed to access the same provision equal for everyone? If not, prepare for reasonable adjustments – offer these, do not wait to be asked
  • Where there is a disparity in access because of changing your services, consider alternatives (digital and physical) to reduce the negative impact