A year ago today, the murder of George Floyd in the US sparked a wave of protest under the banner of Black Lives Matter that would ripple across the globe. Here in Scotland, the movement brought into sharp focus the issues of racism and representation within our history and heritage that were crucial for us to confront.
HES has spent this time in dialogue with a range of community groups, organisations and partners – as well as our own colleagues – to gain valuable feedback on what more we can do as an organisation to ensure that we address issues of racial justice; increase diversity, inclusion and access within our organisation and sector; and ensure that those voices that are all too often missing in conversations about history and heritage are heard.
While it’s important that we listen, learn and reflect, we recognise we also have a responsibility to act. This engagement has shaped our recently published Equality Outcomes for 2021-25, which set out our commitments to tackle existing inequalities and keep equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of everything we do.
We have also continued work to explore Scotland’s hidden histories through our partnership project Managing Imperial Legacies, which seeks to uncover the legacies of empire and the transatlantic slave trade within our built environment. We are also undertaking research which will specifically focus on the legacies of empire at the Properties in Care, and how we tell that story at our sites.
We’re also working to address the underrepresentation of different groups within our workforce and improve diversity and inclusion at all levels. We have used positive measures to target graduate training opportunity to the Black and Asian community with success, and we will be exploring how we can continue this in the future.
We have a responsibility to make sure that how we tell the story of our past represents all of Scotland and the events and people which shaped it, including those aspects which may be uncomfortable to acknowledge. We know that the change required is a long-term commitment, and we will continue to listen and learn from others as we proceed with this important work.