Equality and Diversity

Updated: July 2020; September 2020

Equality and Diversity

Like many throughout the country and the world, the circumstances surrounding the death of George Floyd in police custody have prompted us to pause, reflect and re-examine our organisation and the society in which it exists.

As one of London’s largest unsubsidised playhouses, we reaffirm our determination to:

  • champion diversity and accessibility in everything that we do;
  • ensure that our artists, our work, our workforce and our audience better reflect the city and country in which we live; and
  • be an ever more inclusive organisation in which everyone feels listened to, valued, and able to be themselves.

Although we are a small permanent team of 14, we employ several hundred people every summer and welcome an audience of over 130,000 to our 18-week annual outdoor season of plays and musicals.

To achieve our objectives and play our part in ending systemic racism throughout our industry, we know that we still have much to do and must continue to accelerate and enhance our progress to effect and engender real change.

Our commitments

We commit to:

  • champion diversity and accessibility in everything that we do so that our artists, our work, our workforce and our audience better reflect the city and country in which we live;
  • educate and inform our organisation so that unconscious bias and racism in any form are eradicated;
  • properly monitor the effectiveness of our equal opportunities policy, by collecting information annually, both about our employees and all those who apply to work with us (including performers and creative teams);
  • work with our industry to seek out ways to fully access and broaden the pool of talent across all roles;
  • support and maintain a culture which promotes an open and safe environment where all those working with us may speak freely and candidly;
  • listen to our artists, our workforce and our audience to hear ways in which we might improve our approach to inclusivity; and
  • regularly refine our approach and hold our progress to account, providing updates here.
What we have already done

We have:

  • provided training to all permanent staff in unconscious bias and disability awareness;
  • set up systems to collect equal opportunities data from all those who audition for us or who are met with to discuss creative positions;
  • set up a Positive Action Council comprising a board member, the executive and three members of staff. The council champions diversity, makes recommendations, sets targets and meets regularly to refine our approach and hold our progress to account. We will share progress updates here;
  • curated a list of anti-racism resources for our staff as a living document to encourage ongoing discussion and development;
  • joined the HR Network, a group of HR representatives from UK-wide Arts organisations, which meets regularly to discuss HR matters with a particular emphasis on diversity and inclusion;
  • mandated that all vacant off-stage roles in all departments must be advertised, except in those seasonal roles where the most recent incumbent has been invited to return. Advertisements will usually be placed in over 15 different outlets to ensure they might be seen by the broadest range of applicants;
  • taken general positive action by re-writing our recruitment materials to broaden their appeal and reviewing person specifications to ensure that only truly essential qualities are listed as such;
  • introduced specific positive action where we believe those with certain protected characteristics are under-represented or disadvantaged; steps taken are proportionate measures and are monitored to ensure that they can stand up to scrutiny;
  • partnered with Creative Access to assist in recruiting candidates for paid training positions within our organisation; and
  • recognised that, as an organisation not in receipt of public subsidy, we have not previously had a comprehensive and consistent process for collecting equal opportunity statistics about those in our employ, and so have been unable to be as transparent as we would like to be, or to properly evaluate our performance. We have now introduced an annual survey of all those who work with us (in addition to all those who apply to do so) in order to monitor the effectiveness of our equal opportunities policy.
Our next steps

We will:

  • require all employees to undertake bias and disability awareness training before completing their first week of work.
  • by December 2020:
    • be recognised as Disability Confident Committed;
    • join Stage Sight by committing to actively pursue initiatives which help to create an off stage workforce that is reflective of our society; and
    • set up a dignity guardians scheme to disseminate and maintain our culture across all areas of the organisation and to empower those with concerns to know how best to escalate any issues.
  • in readiness for the 2021 season:
    • require directors to give due consideration to fully accessing and broadening the pool of talent when building their teams and casts;
    • create a framework to track equality and diversity in cast and creative appointments, to be accountable to our Positive Action Council;
    • advertise all assistant director vacancies and guarantee to interview all those who meet the essential criteria; and
    • establish an anonymous survey inviting contributions from our workforce during each production to better understand their experience of working here for ongoing review by our Positive Action Council.
  • continue to refine our approach, set further goals and take additional actions to bring about change and deliver our commitments.