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2 minutes to read Posted on Thursday December 17, 2020

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Harry Verwayen

Harry Verwayen

General Director , Europeana Foundation

Next steps for the Europeana Foundation on diversity and inclusivity

In 2020, the Europeana Foundation made its belief in diversity explicit in its organisational statement that ‘cultural heritage empowers us to embrace our diversity and flourish’. To make that belief a reality, we are working to make sure diversity and inclusivity is reflected in the many areas of our work - from the data we collect to the stories we tell, the events we organise and the communities we nurture. We have to work hard and take the time required to explore more ways to make sure we are indeed embracing diversity and implementing practical measures to embed it in our organisation.

A person looks at a mural of the world
How it was amazing to study in Łódź
José Ignacio Larreche
Europeana Foundation
The Netherlands

There are many elements to diversity and inclusivity. We can think, for example, about age, sex and sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, country of origin or residence, ability or disability. And when we’re talking about inclusivity in representing the work of the cultural heritage sector, we also acknowledge diversity in domain, from small to large, private to public, from library to archive, museum and more.

As an independent organisation, the Europeana Foundation employs over 60 staff members of more than 20 nationalities, each with their own rich heritage. We have a responsibility to lead discussions and processes that will better our understanding and promotion of diversity and inclusivity within the organisation. 

Our approach

While we at the Europeana Foundation have always been committed to increasing our understanding and promotion of diversity, there is much still to do and we continue to learn and evolve as an organisation. 

Ten years ago, our focus was on bringing together the diversity of domains within the cultural heritage sector, helping museums, galleries, libraries and archives to talk to each other and recognise and navigate issues they share.   

Over the years, we have run public campaigns like Europeana Migration, which was part of our celebration of the European Year of Cultural Heritage, promoting the positive role of migration in our rich European history. 

More recently we started contributing to Women’s History Month with blogs, galleries and exhibitions on our collections website and our season on Women in Culture and Technology on our professional website. Organisationally, we have a ‘No woman, no panel’ policy for staff members invited to present at events. 

We will continue these, and other initiatives, such as making diversity and inclusivity an ongoing element of our strategy for the editorial we produce (see for example Growing Up Black and Pride in Europeana: Victorian Dragqueens). And we are looking at how we can further address the range of issues relating to diversity and inclusivity, particularly the diversity of ethnic backgrounds, awareness of which continues to increase due to the global actions of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

We want to make sure that we understand, represent and include the whole of our society in the work that we do. This will take time. But we want to be transparent about where we stand as an organisation, and how we can work together to progress.

What we’re going to do next

  • We will make diversity and inclusivity one of the priorities in the Europeana Foundation’s Business Plan for 2021 so that we can be transparent and accountable for our actions.

  • We will formalise our internal diversity and inclusivity team so that we can embed its role in our organisation to encourage and increase diversity and inclusivity activities. 

  • We will, together with the Europeana Network Association and Aggregators’ Forum, develop peer-to-peer workshops led by experts in the field of diversity and inclusion so that we can develop a better understanding of the challenges we face and develop a roadmap of actions and activities.

We hope that these steps will pave the way for more. We will continue to refine our approaches and adapt, and we will keep you updated on our activities and upcoming actions. 

We will continue to respect each other, to treat each other equally, to acknowledge our mistakes and to learn from them and hope to build trust until we are where we need to be - in a position in which we truly are all empowered to embrace diversity and flourish.