Implementing diversity throughout your cultural attraction can feel like an overwhelming task. Where does an organization start when there is truly so much to do? Given this, it makes sense that many businesses begin by focusing on just one element of their bigger diversity, equity, inclusion and access (DEIA) agenda.
Perhaps you’ve made great headway in improving diversity within your hiring efforts and have also made specific space for it within your employee culture. Maybe your focus has been on enhancing diversity efforts for your guests and making their experience at your attraction more inclusive. Possibly, you’ve prioritized leaning into working with partners who are a direct reflection of the local community in which you do business within.
All of these elements make for a more diverse cultural attraction, and regardless of where you’re at, kudos for getting started. Let’s dive deeper into these three key focus areas to find additional ways to implement DEIA initiatives into every aspect of a cultural attraction to ensure your organization is set up to succeed in the future.
Oftentimes, diversity efforts start with a business’s recruiting and hiring practices. Starting from the inside out can be a great place to begin as these standards can be implemented internally so that your culture and employees are a reflection of the equity and inclusive values your company is trying to embody.
Here are three ways to improve diversity within recruiting and hiring:
Beyond implementing inclusive hiring practices, ensuring your employees feel welcome and supported with employee resource groups focused on racial, gender, sexual orientation, and beyond will help them find meaning both personally and professionally.
Finally, offering mental health resources whether that be in-house counseling or a partnership with local mental health facilities will also show your employees (as well as future talent) that you are invested in facilitating their growth and development long term.
“Diversity isn’t a destination, rather it is an outcome of all of our work on equity, access, and inclusion. At the Los Angeles Zoo, our goal is to create an organization where people can belong and be welcomed as their true authentic selves. The work is not easy, but it is necessary to achieve our mission of creating a just and sustainable world where wildlife and people thrive, together,” said Denise Verret, chief executive officer and director of the Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles, Calif.
“Our work really began with uncomfortable conversations. To us, it was important to start at the basic level. And while we sometimes fumbled through them, ultimately they showed a commitment to learning, understanding, and intentional focus. From there emerged our diversity inclusion culture equity (DICE) taskforce, programs, and initiatives, the creation of a people department, and a non-negotiable stance that the SSA family is a home for all human beings. Throughout all of this was one constant: talking and listening,” said Shannon Fitzgerald, SSA Group chief people officer.
The ultimate goal of diversity around your guests’ experience is twofold. One, it establishes that your visitors are a direct reflection of the diverse population that makes up the local communities, and two, that this audience also feels comfortable and safe during their visit.
As a cultural attraction, this means ensuring guests feel inclusivity from every angle of their time with you. Create an inclusive guest experience by considering the following:
“As you know, there are many aspects of diversity—I think that the Birmingham Zoo has done an excellent job in embracing neurodiversity, and we are proud to have been the first zoo certified as sensory-inclusive, and to have launched that wave of certifications around that inclusivity,” said Lori Perkins deputy director at the Birmingham Zoo in Birmingham, Ala.
Another vital component to the diversity of your organization is ensuring that the partners and vendors you work with to supply your products and services are an accurate representation of the local diverse community that you represent. Here are a few ways to do so:
Building diversity into your cultural attraction can start from a variety of angles, but there’s value across the board for those willing to do the work to better serve your employees, your guests, and your greater community.
Photos Credit: ©SSA Group