On Friday 13th March I attended the ‘Inspiring Equality’ conference run by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) and sponsored by Prospect. In my role as an Equality and Diversity Rep for Prospect (along with Sophie Thorogood and Shoned Jones), I am invested in the way in which we can provide support to both Prospect and non-Prospect staff at Wessex Archaeology, to raise awareness, promote best practice and implement positive changes across the company.

As a result, I was keen to attend this conference and am grateful to Wessex for being so supportive and allowing me to attend.

Attending CifA's 'Inspiring Equality' conference

The first session was a ‘Decolonise Archaeology CPD Workshop’ which explored what decolonising actually means, how the decolonise movement arose, and how this has impacted practice in other sectors. Decolonising explores connections between racialised disadvantages and unconscious bias. As part of this session, we also took part in a ‘Privilege Quiz’ created by Intersectional GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) - try it yourself here. The quiz forced us to take account of our own privileges – some of the results were pretty thought-provoking!

Recent studies have shown a low presence of black, Asian and minority ethnic people within archaeology across the sector and this is something that we are keen to change. This session fuelled discussions for practical ways in which we can both raise awareness of decolonialism in archaeology and also take steps to change this. Ideas included use of language and exhibits in museum exhibitions, anonymous selection for interview, and use of a third party to remove bias, increase partnership work across organisations, and to challenge organisations to review their current structures. These are just a number of the ideas that were floated.

Attending CifA's 'Inspiring Equality' conference

The second session involved a showcase of some of the organisations that are working to promote EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) within the sector. This included an introduction to the newly formed IDEAH (Inclusion, Diversity and Equality in Archaeology and Heritage) group which comprises of a number of organisations and grassroots groups to create a hub to be able to share ideas and practices across the sector. This was a great opportunity to connect with individuals from Trowelblazers, CIfA, Prospect, and the Respect Campaign amongst others, and to hear what steps and actions they are making to promote EDI. The session ended with a hearty discussion on what is already happening across the sector in the EDI sphere and a discussion of practical ways in which we can help to enable changes within our own workplaces.

Overall, attending the conference was a great way to network with EDI professionals, with delegates attending from a wide variety of sectors: from commercial archaeology companies, to heritage consultancies, and museum employees to name a few! The interactive nature, and use of small groups, meant that we were all able to discuss ideas and plans for raising awareness of equality and diversity within our workplaces and to share ideas for implementing further actions. It was also encouraging to hear what measures are already being taken across our sector to improve our workplaces. I am looking forward to working alongside the other E&D Reps and with Wessex to promote best practice in EDI and help make positive changes across the company.

By Isobel Curwen, Geomatics Assistant Supervisor