Part 1 - Visioning Diversity & Inclusion


Let’s start with some definitions. Definitions can differ, but we’ve adapted ours from some commonly accepted ones such as those from the glossary of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

It's important to know that diversity and inclusion mean two different things, even though the two words are often used interchangeably:

DIVERSITY The presence of a wide range of human qualities and attributes within an individual, group or organization. (Diversity includes such factors as age, sex, race, ethnicity, physical and intellectual ability, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, educational background and expertise.)

INCLUSION Appreciating and using our unique differences in a way that shows respect for the individual and ultimately creates a dynamic, multidimensional organization.
You have to think first about what diversity and inclusion mean for your organization.  Some of the ideas you may want to think about:

  • Giving a voice to the under-represented and unheard
  • Allowing people to be authentic and true to themselves at work without the pressure to conform
  • Understanding that individuals identify with multiple communities
  • Recognizing that diversity can increase the potential for conflict and that managing that conflict can be productive

A diverse organization, particularly in arts and culture, is one that not only seeks out diversity but leverages it creatively.  You want to nurture diversity in your workforce and your talent pool, including your volunteers and your board. Being open to diversity in leadership and in your whole talent pool, will open up opportunities for partners and programs.

You want to start this conversation in your organization and it’s important to be inclusive from the get-go. Make sure that everyone is heard – artists and administrators, board, volunteers, even your audiences. People should have a chance to put forward ideas in whatever format (discussion, email, surveys, etc.) they want or find most comfortable.


Is Your Organization ‘Culturally Competent’?

When discussing diversity and inclusion, you’ll often hear the phrase ‘cultural competency’. It refers to the behaviours, attitudes and policies that enable organizations to work well with diversity.

Developing individual cultural competency results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. Cultural competency comprises four components:

  • Awareness of one's own cultural worldview
  • Attitude towards cultural differences
  • Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews
  • Cross-cultural skills

So how do we become culturally competent? Let’s look at some steps in a systemic way:

  1. Develop a statement of commitment to diversity (that’s your diversity and inclusion policy, approved by the board )
  2. Model inclusive behaviour at the leadership level which means living your values
  3. Develop inclusive policies and practices,  i.e. review existing policies so they reflect your vision of diversity and inclusion
  4. Recruit and hire with diversity in mind
  5. Make your organization accessible to everyone – including volunteers, job applicants, visitors, artists, audiences
  6. Get regular feedback to identify and remove barriers





WorkInCulture Policy


Dig Deeper

The Role of Diversity in Building Adaptive Resilience - Includes several case studies of how small arts organizations in the UK were able to develop and harness diversity for growth. 
Navigating Difference – Set of articulate and thoughtful arts-focused essays on achieving diversity in the UK arts sector.
Work Force Diversity Network  - A wide variety of articles on diversity and inclusion
TRIEC Campus – the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) is an excellent source of free eLearning, resources and discussion guides for cross-cultural practices.
The Diversity in Philanthropy Project - Looks at diversity best practices in arts funding, including how US arts funders continually redefine diversity.
Creating Authentic Spaces – An excellent toolkit from The519, a Toronto-based agency with a model of service, space and tools to build welcoming and inclusive environments. The toolkit looks at issues around barriers, language, prejudice , responsibilities and allies, as well as space and policies.