This month, Alexandra Grassam attended the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) annual conference in order to attend the CPD Workshop entitled ‘Equality and Diversity in Archaeology’. The CIfA has recently established a specialist interest group focusing on Equality and Diversity following the previous years’ conference where a heated debate about such issues was sparked off. 
The workshop focused on three key areas, gender, disability and LBGT. On each topic, and introductory talk delivered and then all present were encouraged to debate the issues within groups, providing personal insights and suggesting positive solutions. All were asked to identify matters which require actions from individuals, institutions/employers and the CIfA and the allocated a timescale for the response (immediately, within a year or in five years). 
The workshop covered some difficult and occasionally emotive topics and much discussion was had. It is clear that all present realise the need for improvements in equality and diversity, not just from within our own profession but within a wider context too. What is noticeable at the moment is the lack of clear statistics which reveal the true level of diversity within the profession. Surveys such as the highly useful Profiling the Profession are unable at this stage to scope in the more difficult questions surrounding this as this is not the purpose of them, although they are able to provide information about simplistic information about gender proportions within the industry – which are, incidentally, continuing to show a continued move towards a gender balance. Issues that we are not able to get grip of at the moment include the presence of hidden disabilities amongst the work force, such as dyslexia and mental health conditions, and whether we are a LBGT friendly profession. And the biggest challenge by far is to establish why we continue to be populated by a vast majority of White British in ethnic terms. 
For a clearer understanding of where we are and how we can improve, we need a better understanding of where we are at now. The aim of the Equality and Diversity group is to facilitate this conversation and provide a focus for efforts. They have also produced an action plan which sets out the aims of the group. What is clear from this plan is the need for wide ranging cooperation from all corners of profession, from academia through to commercial, to allow these goals to be achieved. 
To see a transcript of the Twitter discussion from the day, please follow this link
For more information about the E&D group, please follow this link