Working in the cross-team
A cross-team at the Europeana Foundation is made up of colleagues who work in a range of different teams across the organisation. These members come together, bringing their own expertise and perspectives, to ensure we collect feedback and input from the whole organisation to tackle a specific goal, project, or ambition area of strategic importance. In January 2021, we established the Diversity and Inclusion cross-team.
Up to this point, our work to further diversity and inclusion in the Foundation was mostly ad-hoc, scattered across different teams, and sometimes not proactively communicated to the rest of the organisation or external partners. For example: the Collections Engagement team focused on Women's History Month, Black History Month, and Pride Month in their editorial last year; the Service Experience team worked towards increasing the accessibility of our platforms; and the Community and Partner Engagement team worked on inclusiveness in our events. The Digital Transformation Sense making workshops, the themed call for proposals for Europeana 2020 and our work with the New Professionals Task Force gave us lots of data and food for thought to work with.
In January 2021, we formalised this Diversity and Inclusion Cross team, which currently consists of 14 members. The team creates structure for these tasks and supports goals that span the different teams of the Foundation. We aim to be transparent, both within and outside of the Foundation. We organise and structure the work that each team does on D&I so that we can work towards attaining our shared goals together. Julia Fallon, manager of the Community and Partner Engagement team, reports the progress of this team regularly to Harry Verwayen, Europeana's Executive Director, and more formally to the Management team monthly.
Meet the D&I cross-team
Almost every team within the organisation is represented in the D&I cross-team, and each member joined the team because they feel the need to not only improve their knowledge on this topic but also change their working environment for the better. The cross-team is chaired by Jolan Wuyts and Marijke Everts and co-chaired by Gina van der Linden, who share a few words explaining why this work is important to them.
My colleague Isabel Crespo and I started talking about diversity and inclusion because we were disappointed in the lack of diversity in the editorials we were producing and wanted to do so much more. We raised this with the rest of the Collections Engagement team who were on board, especially Jolan Wuyts who started to take an active role with us. I then started to talk to Julia Fallon who manages the Community and Partner Engagement team because I heard she was taking action in this area, and began discussions with Henning Scholtz, who manages the Data Partner Services team, because I wanted to see how we could bring in more diverse content. I also reached out to Dasha Moskalenko who manages the Service Experience team because I was curious about language sensitivity and how accessible our platform was/is.
These initial conversations became bigger discussions because we realised the importance of working across diversity and inclusion across the whole Initiative, from what we do in our teams, to our network and partner cultural heritage institutions, and how we work and behave as individuals; there is a lot of normalised behaviour to dismantle. It’s a lot of work when you are starting from the bottom, but I also feel very lucky to be working on this with motivated and supportive colleagues who have similar goals, see why this is important and aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo.
My activism had mostly confined itself to my personal life over the past few years, and had only come through in my work now and then when choosing topics to focus on in the editorials I wrote. When colleagues of mine started to work on D&I tasks in 2020, I wanted to learn how to contribute towards more diversity and inclusion in my workplace as well. I've supported Marijke Everts and Isabel Crespo from the Collections Engagement team in their D&I work throughout 2020, which has made me realise how much work still can be done both in the organisation and in my personal development. I've committed myself to more involvement in D&I work across the Foundation in 2021. I'm passionate about helping and supporting others, and enabling Europeana to be a platform where underrepresented voices can be heard and tell their stories is an important way for me to enact that support. I'm also looking forward to learning, together with the rest of the organisation, how we can recognise and dismantle our own biases, and learn to build new structures that are more progressive, open-minded and caring.
Gina van der Linden
For me, as an event manager, it is important to make sure all our guests feel welcome, safe and ‘at home’ at our events; this is what hospitality means to me and what makes me happy. Organising events online however has created a whole new world as webinars and meetings are more accessible than ever before. As a result of this, meetings and webinars aren’t necessarily a safe place to come together and have discussions. But we do need those safe spaces for our communities and to be able to achieve this, we require guidance and support from D&I consultants to train us and help us draft guidelines for future events. It won’t happen overnight but we are working on it and together we will do our utmost to become a better, more open and safe place to anyone. I am looking forward to being part of it!