How Prospect’s Heritage Group is working to tackle racism

19 August 2020

Following the death of George Floyd and renewed interest in Black Lives Matter, members in our Heritage Group set out a plan to reflect our responsibilities individually and collectively on racism and race equity.

Prospect and the TUC have rightly condemned the unjustified killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. The brutal violence shown in that incident has given added momentum to a mass campaign – Black Lives Matter – which challenges the violence and discrimination suffered by black people and ethnic minorities in the USA, the UK and worldwide.

The Heritage Group supports the actions taken by the TUC and Prospect in condemning the killing of George Floyd, but recognises that outrage is not enough. We need to recognise that racism is institutionalised in the UK and be prepared to actively oppose it.

Unions have a key role to play in ending oppression, exploitation and inequality and we thank Prospect reps who have issued branch statements and additionally, our members who have called on employing bodies in the heritage sector to make statements setting out their anti-racist positions and making commitments to work towards a more equal, just and non-discriminatory future.

The Heritage Group recognises, however, that we cannot just make statements supporting Black Lives Matter. Neither can we just call on employers to make changes.

Fundamentally we have to look at ourselves and honestly reflect and assess what more we individually and collectively, as Prospect representatives and members can do to be better allies to black people and to people of colour. What can we actually do better to help bring about the tangible improvements we are asking employers to implement?

The Heritage Group therefore pledges the following:

To bring cultural change into existing internal Prospect structures

To do this we will:

  • encourage all members in the sector to challenge themselves and reflect on how we can all do more to confront racism, citing resources to engage activity – see Annex below;
  • encourage members to take actions to help promote equality and equity, signposting relevant petitions to progress campaigns;
  • provide unconscious bias training for reps in the sector, supported by online resources which can then be rolled out by reps to members;
  • Co-opt 2 members of Museum Detox onto the Group and provide a seat on the Group GPC for Museum Detox;
  • organise a session on Black Lives Matter at our Heritage Group meeting on 22 October 2020;
  • encourage black people and people of colour to take part in union activity and to take on representational roles within Branches;
  • provide information on allyship to ensure members can become better supporters of our BAME members
  • Establish a Heritage Group Working Party to consider the issue and make recommendations to the Group on structures and the bargaining agenda including identifying objectives for Branches

To promote activity in Branches to challenge racism

To do this, we will:

  • review our committee structures to ensure we promote diversity and reflect inclusivity and have a standing BLM agenda item at Group meetings
  • encourage and support Branches to hold meetings with, or otherwise collect the views of our black and ethnic minority members about what they want Prospect to be taking forward on their behalf
  • encourage Branches to make contact with BAME Networks at employer level and consider how we can work together jointly to improve equality
  • ask Branches to press their employers to provide unconscious bias training in their organisations
  • seek to ensure that we recruit members and encourage union activity as strong union membership will improve our ability to make meaningful change in the workplace

To address equality, fairness of opportunity and equity, in the workplace

To do this, we will:

  • encourage Branches to assess, jointly with their employers, the current pay, progression, promotion, recruitment and training/development arrangements to ensure that these provide equality of opportunity to develop careers and future leaders in the sector. Specific goals to achieve include regular race equality audits, setting goals for BAME recruitment and representation and annual race gap pay reporting. Discussions should also take place on actions to be taken to improve BAME representation in leadership eg senior management and boards of trustees.
  • encourage Branches to produce regular reports on progress made
  • work with Branches to provide support and guidance on issues of concern around collections, exhibitions etc and challenges the norms of what is current museum practice to make these spaces more accessible to black members and people of colour. This includes challenging racist content in collections,exhibitions, cataloguing or museum spaces.

To combat racism and improve equality, working with external bodies

To do this, we will:

  • continue to work with Museum Detox to consider how we can best ensure that we are pursuing a progressive agenda in the sector and ensuring that members are fully aware of the services and support that Prospect membership can provide eg in taking on issues of bullying, harassment, discrimination and redundancy
  • support and promote TUC/Prospect activity

This is the start of a process. The Group recognises that it has not identified all of the activities that we need to undertake. We know that as representatives we need to reflect and learn and we want to work with members and representatives to ensure that we can make a difference. We hope that members will engage and participate in this process.

Prospect BAME Network

Our network for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers brings together members from across Prospect to share experiences and ideas on how we tackle racism and create better workplaces.
Find out more

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From national museums to archaeological trusts, Prospect members are at the heart of our heritage sector.