Equality and diversity in archaeology: update from CIfA’s Equality and Diversity Steering Group

Equal opportunities are an issue integral to every aspect of archaeological work. It is essential that all people are treated equally and not disadvantaged by prejudices or bias.

Principle 5 of the Code of conduct states that any member shall respect the aspirations of employees, colleagues and helpers with regard to all matters relating to issues of equality of opportunity and employment, including but not limited to career development, health and safety, and terms and conditions of employment. Supporting this Principle is the Institute's policy statement on equal opportunities, which provides more guidance for members and the Institute about how best to comply with the Code and to lead by example. However, we know that much more needs to happen for there to be the kind of culture change needed around equality and diversity practice in archaeology.

CIfA’s own Equality and Diversity Group has been doing much work on this subject since the group was founded in 2015, and now we are keen to embed this culture change within all areas of CIfA’s practice. Our work on this began in 2018 when representatives of Advisory Council reported to the Board on an initial set of priorities for equality, diversity and inclusion relevant to CIfA. In response to this, in April 2019 CIfA, FAME and Prospect issued a joint statement setting out their commitment to tackling bullying, harassment and discrimination in archaeology. CIfA’s Board of Directors subsequently established an Equality and Diversity Steering Group to take forward the priorities identified by the Advisory Council report.

Since July 2020 this steering group has been meeting monthly to take forward these priorities, which focus on:

  • physical and sexual harassment – to provide greater clarity about the relationship of law, ethics and morality, and how this is addressed in and through the Code of conduct
  • identifying areas of quantitative and qualitative research to help us understand inequalities relating to ethnicity, gender, socio-economic group and disability, including any barriers inadvertently created by CIfA processes and criteria. Our initial starting point has been to gather more detailed data as part of CIfA’s membership survey and to try to replicate these questions in other industry surveys, and future work will include a more detailed and funded piece of research on the subject
  • day-to-day harassment - working with FAME and Prospect to encourage greater use of employers’ harassment procedures, and providing relevant training events
  • discrimination on the grounds of the protected characteristics identified in the Equality Act 2010 – by promoting existing guidance, case studies of good practice, etc. Recent work around neurodiversity, menopause, bullying and harassment, decolonising archaeology, mental health and disability awareness has all been working towards this priority
  • future arrangements for equality and diversity advice to the CIfA Board.

The Steering Group members are Melanie Johnson (Board member), Hannah Cobb (Chair of E&D Group), Penny Foreman (Board member and committee member for E&D and Voluntary & Community Groups), and Kayt Hawkins (RESPECT). The Steering Group is supported by Alex Llewellyn (Head of Governance and Finance, and Board member).

The Steering Group is aware that its own membership is not as diverse as we would like and we will be working with a range of external experts to ensure wider representation in all of the work we undertake. CIfA has also joined the newly formed Professional Associations Research Network (PARN) Group for ED&I to benefit from advice and support from other professional bodies on how they are addressing equality, diversity and inclusion within their professions.

We are very grateful to the members who have engaged in the recent discussions around neurodiversity, menopause, decolonising, mental health and disability awareness and shared their experiences. We hope that all members will support us in making a positive culture change to our profession. If you have any questions or would like to bring anything to our attention please contact alex.llewellyn@archaeologists.net or the E&D Group. All communication will be treated in confidence.