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Retaining Racially & Ethnically Diverse Museum Board Members

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

 (This video runs 56:05)

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Supporting Documents

Guiding Question

As you begin diversifying our board, how do we help new members from racially/ethnically diverse backgrounds feel a sense of deep belonging—that their contributions are valued, their identity is not only recognized but affirmed, and they are seen in their fullness as a member of the board?

Webinar Highlights

  • Recognizing the positionality of each member and the relationships that can affect board activities and culture is integral to an efficient, functioning, and inclusive board that lives up to its DEAI goals.
  • Beware of recruiting for diversity but onboarding for similarity (i.e. the difference that someone was recruited for becoming secondary to “fitting” into the existing board culture).

Key Terms

  • Minimization (IDI development stage): an emphasis on minimizing differences between board members and across a board to create “comfort” and ensure all members “fit” the board culture
  • Power is an important element in creating an equitable and inclusive board environment. While often seen as a negative, power is the ability, capacity, and potential to influence others.
  • Intent vs. Impact: what one means to convey versus how it affects others

A major example of the distinction between intent and impact is the effect of microaggressions on board members from non-dominant or marginalized racial or ethnic groups—-microaggressions can have a macro impact on these board members.

Discussion Prompts

  • How does your museum board handle issues such as power dynamics and relationships between board members?
  • What ways can you think of to ensure your board supports new members from marginalized and non-dominant backgrounds?
  • Power is described in the video as the capacity, ability, and potential to influence others to do what you want—what examples can you give that describe a positive and equitable distribution of power on your board?
  • How do the strategies and practices described in the video match up against your board’s current retention and support practices? Where can improvements be made?


Museum Board Annual Self-Evaluation

  • Teams of two: one participant is the outgoing board member, and the other will conduct an interview—add or remove questions as you please!
  • Teams grouped by board: discuss the self-evaluation. If your organization does not have one, use it as a template to collectively decide on what questions to include in one.

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