Creating a Culture of Diversity & Inclusion

Earlier this year, Discovery Center was accepted into the Cultural Competence Learning Institute (CCLI), a year-long training program facilitated by the Association of Science and Technology Centers in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Four other museums around the country were selected to join this cohort which meets monthly by webinar for status updates and training opportunities.

One of the first orders of business was for each museum to conduct a survey measuring staff perception of diversity and inclusion within the organization. These confidential results were compiled, analyzed, and given to the CCLI leadership team at each organization. For some organizations, this was a wakeup call. For others, like Discovery Center, the survey results have become a roadmap to creating a more inclusive and diverse community within the museum.

For example, Discovery Center hosts several cultural-focused free days each year. These events are great opportunities to eliminate socio-economic barriers that keep families from visiting and they allow many guests to experience new cultures and traditions for the first time. On the flip side, we see that free day visitors are more likely to attend events that represent their own culture. Indian American attendance at Discover India is disproportionately higher than it is at the Chinese New Year event. This feedback tells us that the cultural free days are meeting one local need, but still don’t feel inclusive to all cultural communities. The CCLI process will help us to evaluate these programs and devise strategies to enrich them and improve attendance by all demographics.

Feedback from the survey was discussed at an all-staff meeting earlier this month. Both affirmations and opportunities for improvement were met with enthusiasm by all staff. The next steps in our timeline are to start developing new relationships with communities that are underserved in terms of interaction with Discovery Center and to develop criteria for exhibits, programs, and outreach efforts that ensure diversity and inclusion are considered.