Skip to content

Onboarding Racially & Ethnically Diverse Museum Trustees

Category: On-Demand Programs: Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion

(This video runs 39:08)

Return to Diversifying Museum Boards main page

Supporting Documents

Guiding Question

Once a new recruit has agreed to join the board, how can we make the onboarding process as intentional and aligned with our DEAI goals as possible?

Webinar Highlights

  • Onboarding ≠ orientation; a new board member’s induction into the organization should not be a one-and-done event, but an ongoing and continual process of reciprocal knowledge sharing, learning, and collaboration.
  • In welcoming new members, be explicit about the board’s culture—strengths and challenges, practices and beliefs, and attitudes.
  • It’s important to help the new member feel included, part of the organization, and with a sense that their skills and experience will be an active benefit to the board.
  • New board members should feel a sense of engagement with other members, and there should be shared meaning around the board’s mission, vision, values, and goals.
  • Onboarding should be an explicit, defined, transparent, and formal process—new board members should not feel like it is on them to navigate the board. The onboarding onus should also not be on specific members to, for example, show the new member “how things really work, what to look out for, etc.”
  • Onboarding is a two-way street! There should be exchanges of knowledge, experience, and ideas about potential changes to board practices and behaviors.
  • As Beth Zemsky shares, “When a new board member joins, the entire board goes back to the very beginning of team development.” This should be an integral part of onboarding, otherwise, rigidity around processes can set in.

Discussion Prompts

  • Are incoming board members onboarded in a similar fashion? Does the process include an intentional centering of the new member and what they bring to the table beyond orientation?
  • Is our onboarding process a collective process, not incumbent on one or two members to show the new member the ropes?
  • Is there a formal process to provide feedback about the onboarding process? Do new members have avenues to voice concerns or discomfort?


Stages of Team Development

Teams of 2-3: Think about your board’s onboarding process, and identify/discuss some terms in the table that describe your board.

Onboarding for New Trustees

Teams of 2-3, preferably from different organizations: Look at your copy of the onboarding spreadsheet and discuss how similar or different it is to your organization’s flow. What can you learn from it, or from your teammates? If you had any additions/changes to make, what would they be?

AAM Member-Only Content

AAM Members get exclusive access to premium digital content including:

  • Featured articles from Museum magazine
  • Access to more than 1,500 resource listings from the Resource Center
  • Tools, reports, and templates for equipping your work in museums
Log In

We're Sorry

Your current membership level does not allow you to access this content.

Upgrade Your Membership


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Field Notes!

Packed with stories and insights for museum people, Field Notes is delivered to your inbox every Monday. Once you've completed the form below, confirm your subscription in the email sent to you.

If you are a current AAM member, please sign-up using the email address associated with your account.

Are you a museum professional?

Are you a current AAM member?

Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription, and please add to your safe sender list.