Category:Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Accessibility

The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Accessibility wiki pages are created and monitored by the members of the Equity & Inclusion Committee of the American Institute for Conservation.

The committee is actively working to upload useful content for the conservation community.

About the Committee

The Equity & Inclusion Committee (EIC) was created to formalize our commitment to the issues of equity and inclusion within the AIC and the field of conservation at large. It pursues strategic avenues that support AIC’s Core Value of Equity and Inclusion and improve equity and inclusion in our membership and programs.

Before the committee was formed, the AIC Board created the Equity & Inclusion Working Group (EIWG). In 2017, the EIWG published the report Recommendations for Advancing Equity and Inclusion in the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. The recommendations consisted of targets meant to increase racial and cultural diversity within the conservation profession, metrics for improvement, and opportunities for change. Upon closer scrutiny, however, it is clear that many of the Report’s goals, in fact, rely upon non-existent relationships within the organization or are beyond the jurisdiction of the EIC.

In response to this, the EIC created a Strategic Plan for 2020-2025, published in May 2020. To guide the work of the committee, we have developed a strategic plan that focuses on actionable items that we hope to achieve over the next five years. The goals of this plan are to lay out partnerships within AIC, and then objectively examine the structural and systemic barriers to their implementation. The EIC Strategic Plan also serves to outline broad areas of need, which will help to define and prioritize action items for the Committee. By and large, our efforts will focus on changing the AIC culture and building a strong foundation that will ensure that future diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) efforts are not only successful, but also sustainable.

The goals of the strategic plan fall into four main areas:

  • Foster an inclusive and welcoming organizational culture
  • Increase DEIA training and resources for AIC members
  • Improve sustainability of DEIA funding sources
  • Integrate DEIA into all AIC programs

Read the full Strategic Plan here.

The Committee would like to sincerely thank AIC and the Winterthur University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation for making an in-person, facilitated retreat possible for the committee.

Current Initiatives
The EIC is working on a number of projects and initiatives. Below is a summary of the progress of our work.

Survey on Accessibility Issues
The EIC is committed to better understanding the needs of AIC members, prospective students, and anyone who may interact with AIC and its services. There is currently no data about accessibility and the conservation field, so EIC is creating a survey to collect this information in order to raise awareness of issues conservators are already facing, as well as provide more resources. We hope to launch this survey in fall 2020.

Have a recommendation for a resource or concern? Contact the committee at [email protected]

Getting Started

The following information and resources provide general information about diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in cultural heritage. This is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather a short introduction that will hopefully lead you down your own path of education and exploration.

The most basic terms to know :

  • Diversity can be defined as the sum of the ways that people are both alike and different. Visible diversity is generally those attributes or characteristics that are external. However, diversity goes beyond the external to internal characteristics that we choose to define as ‘invisible’ diversity. Invisible diversity includes those characteristics and attributes that are not readily seen. When we recognize, value, and embrace diversity, we are recognizing, valuing, and embracing the uniqueness of each individual. The [ALA] Task Force has chosen to define “diversity” in all its complexity in order to recognize and honor the uniqueness of each ALA member, all members of our profession, and our very diverse communities.
  • Equity is not the same as formal equality. Formal equality implies sameness. Equity, on the other hand, assumes difference and takes difference into account to ensure a fair process and, ultimately, a fair (or equitable) outcome. Equity recognizes that some groups were (and are) disadvantaged in accessing educational and employment opportunities and are, therefore, underrepresented or marginalized in many organizations and institutions. The effects of that exclusion often linger systemically within organizational policies, practices and procedures. Equity, therefore, means increasing diversity by ameliorating conditions of disadvantaged groups.
  • Inclusion means an environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully; are valued for their distinctive skills, experiences, and perspectives; have equal access to resources and opportunities; and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.
  • Accessibility means “people can do what they need to do in a similar amount of time and effort as someone that does not have a disability”, as defined by Alistair Duggin, whose series of blog posts explain the basics of accessibility issues.
The definitions for diversity, equity, and inclusion come from the Final Report of the American Library Association Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

For more definitions, check out our glossary of terms to better understand the language around DEIA.

Familiarize yourself with the issues

For actual inclusion, it is important to create a sense of belonging. Instead of focusing on whether a new hire will fit into the culture, this is about creating a culture where everyone feels like they belong and can be their authentic self.

When confronting and looking for solutions in DEIA work, it becomes clear that we need to look at both individuals and systems. The major systems in the US are dominated by white people, including the field of conservation. Dr. Robin DiAngelo is a sociologist who studies whiteness, and her work is one place to start when trying to understand these issues.

  • New Yorker article - the main concepts of DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility, are outlined and relayed.
  • In this article, DiAngelo unpacks systemic racism and white discomfort around issues of race.

Intersectionality refers to the complex, cumulative way in which multiple forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect. This term was coined by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, and she explains this concept in her TED talk, The Urgency of Intersectionality.

Accessibility means “people can do what they need to do in a similar amount of time and effort as someone that does not have a disability”, as defined by Alistair Duggin, whose series of blog posts explain the basics of accessibility issues.

If you’d like to learn more, this reading list from Art Equity covers a variety of topics.

Be aware of your language

The language we use to talk to and about others is crucial to our interactions.

Understanding implicit bias and microaggressions

Implicit bias is when you act on the basis of prejudice or stereotype without intending to do so. Implicit associations often don’t align with our declared beliefs. Everyone has implicit biases, so we must take steps to identify them so we are more conscious about how we act.

Microaggressions are “the kinds of remarks, questions, or actions that are painful because they have to do with a person's membership in a group that's discriminated against or subject to stereotypes”. Learn more about microaggressions and how they relate to implicit bias in this Vox article What Exactly is a Microaggression.

Advocating for change

Much of DEIA work is advocating for those around you to see the world from a different perspective. No matter our job title or years in the field, every one of us can become an agent for change in the field. Recognizing our agency and inherent power is critical in successful advocacy.

Racial Justice Resources

Organizations to donate to:


(We would encourage people to not use Amazon if they plan to purchase any of these resources. Their history of problematic and racist labor policies and development of faulty facial recognition technology makes us all less safe and actively causes harm to BIPOC. We encourage people to find BIPOC-owned local bookstores or go to to support independent bookstores)

  • Michelle Alexander. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. 2010.
  • Dolly Chugh. The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias. 2018.
  • Jennifer Eberhardt. Biased : Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do. 2019.
  • Ibram Kendi. Stamped from the Beginning: The definitive history of racist ideas in America. 2016.
  • Ibram Kendi. How to be an antiracist. 2019.



Reading lists and resources compiled by other arts organizations:

Studies on DEIA in the cultural heritage sector

Resources from allied organizations

compiled by: The Society of Black Archaeologists, The Theoretical Archaeology Group (North America), and The Columbia Center for Archaeology

Compensation and Hiring

Examining and reimagining our pay and hiring practices is one way to address inequity and increase diversity in our field. In order to lift up our profession, we must address low or no pay and broaden our scope when looking for new staff. The following guidelines are a place to start.


Abolish unpaid internships.
When many conservators begin their career earning no money, it is not surprising that the whole field is affected with low wages. By abolishing unpaid internships, we set the bar higher at the beginning of a conservator’s career, raising up our whole field. In addition, earning a wage gives young conservators a sense of greater self worth, encouraging them to negotiate for higher wages as they go further in their career. Unpaid internships also discriminate against poorer candidates who cannot afford to work unpaid and creates the lack of diversity in our workforce that we experience today. Interns in unpaid situations are also more vulnerable to an exploitative environment, often replacing a paid worker while not receiving the experience they were promised.

Calls for paid internships have been repeated by various organizations in the arts, including the Association of Art Museum Directors.

Further reading

All internships, fellowships, and graduate school stipends should meet the MIT Living Wage for the area and include cost of living adjustments (COLA).
The MIT Living Wage Calculator calculates the income individuals must make to meet the minimum standards of living in a region. Fellowships and graduate school stipends should meet this minimum. In addition, they should include an increase for the estimated cost of living from year to year. Without meeting these minimum standards, fellows and students are expected to find other sources of income, often family members, to support them, and this is not possible for everyone. This also applies to staff positions, both temporary and permanent.

We also encourage you to provide other types of support for interns. If you can only provide a modest stipend, you can make up the difference by providing housing or covering major transportation costs. Perhaps you can provide meals if your university or archaeological site has a cafeteria. Think outside the box on how to properly compensate interns.

Include salary information and benefits in all job, fellowship, and internship postings.
Many employers believe that salary disclosure will reduce the number of promising applicants, interfere with the institution's ability to negotiate, or create distress among current employees. However, salary disclosure is one step in creating transparency and equity during the hiring process, which can have beneficial effects across our field. It ensures that candidates have a greater understanding of the position and are comfortable with its salary range, minimizing wasted time in the application process for both job candidates and employers. Salary disclosure is also one way to begin closing the gender wage gap and to address one of the factors contributing to the lack of diversity in our workforce.

There is a significant movement in the nonprofit sector for greater salary transparency. Among conservation groups, the AIC Objects Specialty Group, the Midwest Regional Conservation Guild, and the United Kingdom's The Institute of Conservation already recommend these steps. The Art + Museum Transparency group, a worker activist group that manages two viral spreadsheets for salary and internship transparency, state that "this practice will play a crucial role in breaking the cycle of women and minorities being historically underpaid in comparison to their white male counterparts." You can read their opinion in its entirety on Hyperallergic.

Salary disclosure serves the interests of both employees and employers. If your HR department does not allow salary disclosure, please consider this an opportunity to explain its benefits to our field as well as the cultural heritage sector at large. Some employees have succeeded in changing HR policies at their institutions by advocating for this process. If you are soliciting quotes for a contract position, please indicate this in the posting.

Further reading

Do not ask for salary history.
By perpetuating past inequities, basing salary on past compensation contributes to the wage gap experienced by women, people of color, and people with disabilities. Base your salary on market rates and salary surveys of comparable positions in your area. In a growing number of states and municipalities, it is illegal to ask about salary history or consider salary history in determining salary offers.

Publicly available salary surveys:


Create an ethical internship program.
Hiring an intern should not be seen as a replacement for a paid staff member. Internship programs provide benefits for both the intern and the department. A strong internship program should be a hands-on mentoring relationship where the intern is learning transferable skills, likely creating less time for you to do your own work. The intern is also expected to help with mundane daily tasks alongside their other work.

It is also important to provide structure and evaluation. What you expect from your intern and what the intern can expect from the internship should be clear from the outset. In addition, periodically conduct evaluations to ensure that both intern and supervisor are happy with the progress, and set these dates ahead of time.

Further reading

Broaden the scope of where you post jobs/internships/fellowships.
In addition to the sites we are all familiar with for conservation listings, post the position more broadly to reach a wider audience, particularly for internships. Some suggestions include:

It is also important to actually advertise the position, not simply hire from within the institution. Internal hires are valid and institutional experience is important, however, too much internal hiring perpetuates bias and does not provide opportunities for the field at large.

Address bias in hiring practices.

Studies show that the hiring process is biased and unfair, with unconscious racism, sexism, and ageism playing a role in who gets the job. Review the hiring process to address potential biases. Examine the position requirements and make sure the credentials are skill-based, not credential-based. Here are some tips:

  • Evaluate your education requirements. Is an advanced degree necessary for the position?
  • Review the job description. Research shows that some language is more “masculine”, while other words imply “feminine” characteristics. There are software programs that will evaluate your text and look for stereotypically gendered words so you can replace it with something more neutral.
  • Consider a “blind” application review process. This helps you focus on the skills a candidate brings to the job, not biases that will creep in as you assess an application. Check out Eastern State Penitentiary’s experience with blind hiring.
  • Give a skills test. A Yale study shows how quickly we judge based on class status. This is one factor among many different types of biases that influence how we evaluate a job candidate. A skills test will focus the interview on what the candidate brings to the job, not on their socioeconomic status or other factors that should not influence hiring.

Further reading

Phone and Video Interviewing

There is a growing trend, and necessity for, phone and video interviewing. Certainly, these means of interviewing are more accessible to some and allow for larger pools of candidates that perhaps would not have been reached otherwise. However, there are still biases that come into play in these situations that it is important to be aware of and address in our hiring. There is a lack of consensus on bias in video interviewing, but the risks of bias are always present, and everyone can work to minimize negative impact by having the proper guidelines in place.

Evidence suggests we make judgments about class, gender, and even skill, based on how others speak, their accents, and the cadence of their voices.

Further reading

There are many articles online that discuss the pitfalls and positives of video and phone interviewing; however, many are published by video and phone conferencing/interviewing platforms, so it’s important to be critical of the sources. Whether video or phone interviews are chosen, following guidelines can reduce overall bias including suggestions outlined in the section above on ‘Addressing bias in hiring practices.’

Accessibility Issues in Conservation

The EIC is working to better understand the barriers to entry to the field as well as difficulties experienced by members of the AIC community.

Accessibility means “people can do what they need to do in a similar amount of time and effort as someone that does not have a disability”, as defined by Alistair Duggin, whose series of blog posts explain the basics of accessibility issues.

Presentations and events

The following resources are provided to assist in making events and presentations more accessible for all. It is important to remember that disabilities may not always be visible or obvious and making events and presentations more accessible makes them more inclusive to all members of our community, including participants with different learning styles and non-native English speakers.

There are simple things we can all do to make presentations and events more accessible, and our collective efforts help ensure the widest dialogue possible within our community.


  • Face the audience and do not obscure your mouth.
This is important for those who use speech reading techniques.
  • Use a microphone whenever possible.
  • Speak clearly, use simple language, and try to avoid idioms, unnecessary jargon, and undefined acronyms.
Idioms can be particularly difficult for those with cognitive disabilities to interpret and may be taken literally. Additionally, they are often geographically specific, making them less comprehensible outside that region.
  • Provide trigger warnings for sensitive material and topics.
Sensitive topics might include human remains, excavation of burial materials, or photographs of specific groups.
  • Use gender neutral language when possible and appropriate.
The use of gendered pronouns (his or her) can exclude non-binary people. “They” is increasingly acceptable for both plural and singular gender-neutral pronouns.
  • Keep to your allotted time.

Learn more about how to make accessible presentations in Accessibility Guidelines for Presenters and Moderators.

Online considerations

Online presentations are considered more inclusive and accessible, but they can pose particular issues for those who are hard-of-hearing, deaf, have slower internet connections. as well as those with low visual acuity. It can be relatively simple to avoid some common pitfalls of online presentations and doing so creates a richer dialogue in the field.

  • Use programs that support closed captioning (CC) and speech-to-text conversion.
Some video conferencing platforms support closed captioning to allow participants who use speech reading techniques to participate real-time. Providing closed captioning should be the default, and PowerPoint for Office 365 can provide live CC. If live closed captioning isn’t available, send slides or other notes in advance to help those who are hard-of-hearing or deaf; make sure to update these materials if you make any changes.
  • Minimize background noise and notifications.
Find a quiet place to host or call into your webinar. If you can’t find a quiet environment, use a headset with a microphone to help reduce background noise. Turn off all notifications on cell phones, messaging apps, and mail clients; setting your status to “do not disturb” can help reduce interruptions.
  • Do NOT disable captions.
Channels/sites such as YouTube and Facebook allow owners to use the provided closed captioning. Keeping these features enabled ensures that your presentation is accessible to hard-of-hearing or deaf audiences. Even CC that is slightly incorrect is more useful than no CC at all.
  • Test all technology BEFORE the meeting.
This includes camera and video functions, Wi-Fi, and screen sharing if you plan on using these. All participants should also know how to mute their microphones. If possible, offer to test that CC, screen sharing, etc are working.
  • Only one speaker at a time and take pauses between speakers.
Don’t interrupt other people when they’re speaking or attempt to speak over them. Multiple speakers at a time are difficult for all participants to understand, but especially problematic for those using speech-to-text software. Pausing between speakers allows speech-to-text software time to better register what is being said by individual speakers.
  • State your name each time you speak.
This allows anyone using an interpreter or listening only to voices to know who is speaking
  • Be mindful of clothing, accessory choices, and the environment.
If you’ll be on video, solid color clothing (instead of patterned) is less distracting. Be mindful of any accessories or jewelry if you are expressive with your hands as the noise and movement can be distracting and interfere with audio for participants. The positioning of light and certain virtual backgrounds make speech reading techniques difficult (eg. backlit speakers, glares from the sun, and low light settings).

Learn more about how to participate more inclusively in Accessibility Guidelines for Online Events and Presentations.

Below are documents focusing on specific aspects of PowerPoint. We highly recommend reading the above guidelines to provide some context and general information.

Thank you to Sally G. Kim for her hard work in putting together key features of PowerPoint.

Further Reading

Lab Accessibility

Land Acknowledgements

What is a land acknowledgement?

A land acknowledgement is a statement meant to respectfully recognize the original Indigenous people who inhabited and cared for a specific area before colonization or displacement. They are often given at the start of an event or presentation. The EIC wrote more about land acknowledgements on page 11 of the AIC News.

To learn more about the land you are on, check out this Native Land map.

Why include a land acknowledgement?

AIC’s Code of Ethics includes Statement II: “All actions of the conservation professional must be governed by an informed respect for the cultural property, its unique character and significance, and the people or person who created it.” As with any cultural preservation effort, we cannot forget the importance of people in our mission to preserve memory and heritage. Providing this statement is one gesture to demonstrate our recognition of this history and respect for the community where we are holding our activities. It is also important to recognize that the history of colonialism and displacement has benefitted many of the cultural institutions in which conservators work.

How do I write a land acknowledgement?

The EIC has created guidelines to assist you in preparing your own acknowledgements.

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