Digital leadership – Inclusion, equity and digital

The fourth online seminar in the Leading the Sector 2022 series explores the role of digital in developing more open, inclusive and equitable organisations; and involving more people in heritage more meaningfully.

A group of festival goers covered in different coloured paints
Photo by Nqobile Vundla on Unsplash

Digital leadership – Inclusion, equity and digital

1. Full seminar recording

This resource contains the full seminar recording, alongside some shorter clips highlighting some of the key and interesting talking points made by the speakers: Julie Nicholson (Managing Director & Founder, Digital Voice for Communities), Kelly Foster (Kelly Foster, open knowledge advocate and public historian) and Matthew Cock (CEO, VocalEyes). It also features a number of useful resources, reports and toolkits to help you with inclusion and equity within your own heritage organisation.


Download the video transcript

2. Invest in time and space for learning digital skills

In her presentation, Julie Nicholson shows that teaching digital skills in content creation is a great way to engage audiences that you might not usually reach, and who might not normally visit heritage sites. Through teaching digital skills, you can support the community to learn new skills but also visit heritage sites in ways that are beneficial and engaging for them. Julie also highlights how the content that they create, through the skills that they learn, can work as brilliant advocacy tools for the work that you are doing, to bring in more members of those communities in the future.

Julie Nicholson, Managing Director and Founder of Digital Voice for Communities, shares how teaching digital skills can help to broaden your audiences.

Download the video transcript

3. The importance of your organisation’s access page

Matthew Cock highlighted the significant importance of your organisation’s access page and the information that it provides for your visitors. It should provide disabled visitors with the key information that they need before making a visit to your site. Accurate access information will help them to feel welcome and considered as a person and it will also act as a reassurance that they will be able to visit with confidence. It will also reassure them that your site is worth visiting in the first place as it often acts as the homepage for disabled visitors. VocalEyes has recently released their report and research, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which assess the access information provided by over 300 heritage websites. It is really worth looking through their findings and thinking about your own websites, alongside this useful benchmarking tool.

Matthew Cock, CEO of VocalEyes, on the importance of your heritage organisation’s access page.

Download the video transcript

4. The virtuous circle for accessibility and inclusivity

Matthew closed his presentation by sharing an image of a virtuous circle, which highlights how ensuring that accessibility and inclusivity is at the heart of what you do will kickstart a cycle that brings in more disabled people interested in visiting and working with your organisation. This then ensures that the cycle continues and that a dedication to accessibility and inclusivity is maintained. Your digital channels, platforms, communications and content play a major role in kickstarting this cycle, as they are often the first place that disabled people will encounter barriers. Matthew says that, as a leader, it is your role to be an example and to make sure that accessibility and inclusivity is at the heart of what you do as an individual and as an organisation.

Matthew Cock, CEO of VocalEyes, shares the virtuous circle for accessibility and inclusivity.

Download the video transcript

5. What are we inviting people to be included in?

In her presentation, Kelly Foster points out that often times the systems themselves that we are inviting communities to be included in are built on historic harms and sometimes perpetuate present harms as well. Kelly also highlights that equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work is often project funded and that it’s important for us, as a sector, to think beyond EDI as being something to be funded by one-off projects and instead to be something that is core to our services and values.

Kelly Foster, open knowledge advocate and public historian, asks ‘what are we inviting people to be included in?’.

Download the video transcript

6. Digitisation is not neutral

It is important to remember that there is often a lack of neutrality in digitising our collections, particularly for collections that have roots in Britain’s colonial past. Kelly highlights that usually, when digitising collections, the power remains with the organisation. So we need to think about who has the control and a voice in the process, whose views are being represented in the metadata we create, who has intellectual control over the collection and should it be you or your organisation? When thinking about the data that we are creating and sharing through our digitisation work, Kelly highlighted a really useful resource created by the Global Indigenous Data Alliance which aims to support organisations with the consideration of collective benefit, authority to control, responsibility and ethics in working with research data. These can be applied to the data we create through digitisation and sharing our collections online. As a leader, it is your role to make sure that EDI isn’t an afterthought.

Kelly Foster, open knowledge advocate and public historian, on the fact that digitisation isn’t neutral.

Download the video transcript

7. In conclusion

This seminar has shown that there are numerous ways for us to involve our audiences and communities with our organisation through digital tools, platforms and experiences. As heritage organisations, it’s imperative that we are mindful of how accessible we are, not just in the real world, but on digital platforms as well. Not only that, but as a leader you should be championing a position of inclusion and equity for your organisation, through your own actions and through the organisation’s work. A key question to ask ourselves is ‘whose voice is being heard?’ and ‘who is missing from the conversation?’. Below are some useful resources to help you think more deeply about those questions within the context of your organisation.


8. Further resources


9. Attribution

Digital leadership – Inclusion, equity and digital resource (2022) by Culture24 supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0

More help here

A man in a white suit with hands raised out suspended high in the air from a wire

Accessible Marketing Guide

A comprehensive guide to making your marketing activity and communications accessible to the widest number of people. This version was updated in 2020 by Grace McDonagh, Marketing Officer, Artsadmin in partnership with AMAculturehive, with support from the UnlimitedArtsadmin and Shape Arts teams. The guide is also available as a PDF, large print, audio and Easy Read formats.

A young couple read an exhibit at the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, a small, terraced house in Old Commercial Road in Portsmouth, Hampshire

How your organisation can engage with underrepresented groups

This resource highlights how heritage organisations can engage with ‘hard-to-reach’ audiences and widen the participation of underrepresented groups. It explains how to improve digital participation, develop socially inclusive practices and embrace the heritage insights of source communities. By doing so, you can start to establish the trust needed to involve groups that may have previously been excluded from the heritage sector.

Lighthouse next to the sea

Digital leadership – Digital skills, literacy and capacity

Heritage leaders play a vital role in building digitally literate, skilled, confident teams. The second online seminar in the Leading the Sector 2022 series explored the role of digital skills and literacies in building organisational capacity, resilience and change, as well as how you can build your personal digital understanding as a heritage leader.


Browse related resources by smart tags:

Digital Diversity Equity Inclusion Leadership
Published: 2022
Resource type: Webinars and films

Creative Commons Licence Except where noted and excluding company and organisation logos this work is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY 4.0) Licence

Please attribute as: "Digital leadership – Inclusion, equity and digital (2022) by Culture24 supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0


More help here

Digital Heritage Hub is managed by Arts Marketing Association (AMA) in partnership with The Heritage Digital Consortium and The University of Leeds. It has received Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and National Lottery funding, distributed by The Heritage Fund as part of their Digital Skills for Heritage initiative. Digital Heritage Hub is free and answers small to medium sized heritage organisations most pressing and frequently asked digital questions.

Arts Marketing Association
Heritage Digital
University of Leeds logo
The Heritage Fund logo