Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
The Mass Cultural Council envisions a Commonwealth in which culture is inclusive, accessible, and embraces our diversity. To support that vision the agency is working to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and access at the agency and through its programs. After a yearlong learning and assessment process we identified five areas of focus and related goals, based on our own organizational structures and relationships with our constituents:
Internal Culture: Agency processes and practices
- Goal: Cultivate a culture of equity and inclusion within the Mass Cultural Council
Grantmaking and Awards: Direct financial support and recognition given to artists and cultural organizations
- Goal: Encourage full participation in Mass Cultural Council-supported programs
Training, Technical Assistance, and Other Services: Workshops, site visits, designations, and other services provided beyond grantmaking
- Goal: Encourage full participation in Mass Cultural Council-supported programs
Marketing and Communications: Language, images, and platforms used to describe Mass Cultural Council’s work and impact across the state and in specific communities
- Goal: Expand our reach in ways that encourage an applicant pool that reflects the diversity of our Commonwealth
Partnerships: Relationships with key groups, including the Council and legislators
- Goal: Leverage relationships and engagement efforts that deepen and broaden effective advocacy on behalf of cultural equity
Progress to Date
The Mass Cultural Council has acted upon the following recommendations, through early 2019:
- Include gender pronouns and appropriate accommodations.
- Address salary standardization and documentation per the new pay equity law.
- Consider how candidate values and intentions are aligned with work responsibilities and if that area can be substituted when work experience is lacking.
- Continue evaluating the skills and background necessary to perform the roles and responsibilities for a job or contract, while developing RFPs for future opportunities.
- Continue to promote open positions through networks that encourage a diverse candidate pool.
- Revise language used to describe programs and services that is accurate, easily understandable, and welcoming.
- Provide offerings in the most prominent languages of our community – currently in process as part of the website redesign.
- Communicate accessibility and non-discrimination policies more consistently.
- Incorporate staff photos and pronouns into website.
- Create guidance on language to support inclusivity (e.g., pronoun usage) for staff use.
- Integrate photos and stories of Mass Cultural Council’s grantees and communities reached throughout marketing and communications materials.
- Create accessible visuals to communicate Mass Cultural Council’s funding and awards.
- Translate the website and printed materials into different languages.
- Use as reference/model the process currently in place to ensure accessibility of large public events, applying lessons learned at smaller meetings and other public gatherings.
- Revise application and guidelines language to ensure it is accurate, easily understandable, and welcoming.
- Facilitate meaningful interactions between constituents and legislators to show the diversity of communities served (e.g., youth, social service organizations, artists, cultural organizations).
- Continue successful efforts to ensure the diversity of Mass Cultural Council staff reflects the diversity of the Commonwealth.
- Align FY19 spending plan with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion plan.
To organize the plan, agency staff took part in a collaborative prioritization process. Staff recommended cross-agency working groups that allowed for inclusive leadership opportunities as the best method for working toward these goals.
The agency also recognizes that the scope of many of the areas of focus will take more than a fiscal year to work through. Each working group will identify their scope for the year and any unfinished work will be carried forward into the following fiscal year. Staff also acknowledged that future work would necessarily be influenced by what the agency learns and accomplishes as the work continues.
Staff and leadership also acknowledge that this work has no end point and is a continual process.
Update and Revise Mass Cultural Council Human Resources (HR) Policy Manual
- Formally document all current Mass Cultural Council HR policies by updating the formal handbook
- Update Mass Cultural Council organizational chart so it appropriately reflects the nature of the organization and provides guidance on appropriate lines of communication
- Share revised policies with constituents to model behavior
- Enhance Mass Cultural Council hiring practices through HR
- Add language to job descriptions that outlines how you create an inclusive environment
- Send job announcements to arts centers and nonprofit organizations skilled in accessibility and inclusion planning efforts
Examine Application and Review Process
- Reconsider the timeline and process for grant and award submissions
- Consider how long applicants have to wait to hear a response on applications
- Reconsider the length of the applications
- Consider what is suitable for submissions and reporting requirements
- Consider how expanding submission formats (e.g., in person interviews, video submission, submissions in different language) can improve understanding of proposed projects
- Consider whether the non-panel programs are serving their intended audiences well with the selection processes that they have
- Offer technical assistance in a variety of ways
- Ensure that review processes and panelists do not inadvertently value grant writing skills above project benefit
- Convene user experts to provide feedback on timeline, application length, and language
- Reconsider and revise the application process and format based on user expert feedback
- Consider strategies for broadening the applicant pool, including engagement of Mass Cultural Council staff with broad networks
- Continue to supply applicants with feedback and panel comments in order to strengthen future applications
- Regularly review the balance of program funding allocations
Create More Cross-Program and Cross-Experience-Level Conversations and Working Groups to Encourage More Collaboration
- Expand the working group model to bring together staff from across the agency to work collaboratively on a problem, program, or initiative and to facilitate sharing communication, data tracking and sector trends
- Incorporate additional opportunities for cross-agency conversations into existing practices, including power of lunch and 411 presentations
- Consider increasing budget for professional development for all staff
Examine Grant Panel Review Process
- Diversify grant panelists, using strategies such as recruiting through channels used to post open positions
- Go beyond existing networks and relationships
- Promote available opportunities through community-specific networks and service organizations
- Revisit the requirements to be an effective grant panelist to only include what is truly required
- Note opportunities for panel service on the Mass Cultural Council emails and social media sites
- Review panelist requirements and recruitment language, adjusting to ensure they align with panel needs
- Survey panelists to understand their experience with the process
- Determine where else youth panelists could serve in addition to the Amplify panel and develop a pipeline of opportunities for youth panelists
- Review the various ways panelists are trained and identify and standardize current best practices across panels.
Build in Ways to Track Progress with Accountability and Data
Internal HR policies and practices
- Job application referrals by source (e.g., Mass Cultural Council website, other website, networks)
- Leadership opportunities offered throughout the year
- Grievances filed by staff
- Establish which metrics should be tracked agency-wide and which should be tracked on a per-program basis
- Number of panelists, by diversity categories
- Number of panelists, by program-specific qualifications (e.g., expertise in artistic discipline, experience in education, financial knowledge)
- Update the agency-wide database of panelist information to ensure it captures the agreed upon metrics
- Develop a pipeline of panelists to use across programs
Applicant and Grantee Information
- Establish which metrics are currently should be tracked agency-wide and which should be tracked on a per-program basis
- Number of applicants, by diversity categories and number of applications submitted
- Number of successful applicants (grantees), by diversity categories and percent of successful applications
DEI-focused programs and services
- Number of grantees who receive training, technical assistance, or other services
LCC applicants and UP Participants
- Number of applicants, by diversity categories
- Number of successful applicants (grantees), by diversity categories
- Number of grantees who become UP network member and/or receive designation
- Number of UP program participants who become grantees
FY21 and Beyond
Areas of focus will largely be determined by FY19 and FY20 results, but will include:
- Description of services and technical assistance
- Sharing and promoting successful DEI strategies with constituents
- Continue a practice of transparency
- Advocacy and communication
- Community engagement