European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC)

Two questions about diversity for Zita Holbourne

Zita Webpage2
Zita Holbourne is an artist, trade unionist, human rights campaigner and equality expert from the UK.

For Inspired by Diversity, the ENCC's project to improve equality and diversity in its network, we reached out for guidance to Zita Holbourne. Zita is advising us on the structure and plan of our project and conducting a survey about equality initiatives and practices in our network. She will also be leading a workshop at Cultural Impact Now this June, where participants will draft their own specific equality plan for their organisation. We spoke to her and followed up by email on these two questions.

Zita, you are active in many roles and on many levels. Can you remind us about the different types of work you do?

I'm a trade unionist. As National Vice President of the Public and Commercial Services union in the UK, I chair the union's national equality committee and women's committee.  I'm the Joint National Chair of Artists Union England, where I also lead on equality. I sit on the European Public Services Union National and European Administration Committee. 

Over the last 20 years, I've had a lot of experience in building equality networks, creating equality strategies, leading campaigns for equality, tackling under-representation and discrimination. I have worked as a senior policy officer implementing article 13 European framework equality  legislation into UK law and coordinating equality legislation across UK government. 

I'm a human rights campaigner. As chair and co-founder of BARAC UK,  I work on fighting the disproportionate impacts of austerity on black and marginalised ethnic communities. I also campaign for migrant and refugee rights, coordinating regular aid and solidarity convoys and missions.

I'm also an award-winning performance poet, a visual artist and a curator. 

Why is it essential for cultural organisations to support diversity and equality in their teams and governance as well as for their audiences?

Cultural organisations should be inclusive, safe, welcoming and accessible spaces for all of society so that they attract and include the best cultural talents and audiences. They have an important role in promoting multiculturalism and using creativity to challenge discrimination and fostering a more positive, peaceful and equal society and world. 

When organisations practice equality, everybody benefits, not just those who might face discrimination or be underrepresented.

It also means that those organisations attract and retain the best talent. Not having strong equality practices might mean, for example, that you don't engage a diverse pool of candidates when adding professionals to your staff or governance.

Having a diverse workforce means that you not only attract the best talent, but that your organisation is enriched by the different lived experiences, perspectives and knowledge your team brings, which in turn attracts a diverse pool of visitors, users and stakeholders. 

Having an equality action plan and /or mission statement to demonstrate your key aims, can demonstrate that you have equality at the heart of everything you do and thus welcome wider engagement with your organisation.

The more diversity we have and channel through our work within the culture sector, the more we break down barriers, counter discriminatory views and create a platform to both celebrate difference and promote understanding and unity.

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You can follow Zita on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website

Read more about her in this profile by the Guardian