A street scene of a woman with a cane and a young person walking past a shop front.
© Historic England Archive. DP290682.
© Historic England Archive. DP290682.

Inclusion, Diversity and Equality

Historic England’s purpose is to improve people’s lives by championing and protecting England’s historic environment. As a Public Body, we need to ensure our work is accessible and relevant to everyone in England.

Our strategy for inclusion, diversity and equality

Heritage is for everyone. At Historic England, we believe that the historic environment in England should be accessible and relevant to everyone who lives and visits here, whatever their socio-economic background, race, religion, age, sexuality, gender, disability, or health.  

Historic England also believe that an inclusive heritage sector is a resilient heritage sector; one which better represents and addresses the needs and concerns of society, and is relevant to a greater number of people.

We know that we’re not currently reaching large sections of the population. While we have already taken steps to be more inclusive, there is more to do. Our strategy builds on previous good work by Historic England to engage new audiences and work in inclusive ways. It also builds on the experiences and insights of other organisations.

The strategy provides a framework for ensuring that we deliver our core purpose in a way that benefits a broader range of people, places and communities. It reaffirms our commitment to do this in partnership with other organisations and communities representing our rich heritage and the diversity of England.

Our first Strategy for Inclusion, Diversity and Equality 2020 to 2023 set out our ambitions for a three year period. It demonstrated our aim to improve the inclusivity and diversity of Historic England’s work, workforce and internal culture.

We are now in a stronger position to advise, support, influence and enable the wider heritage sector, and we have updated our strategy for 2023 to 2026 to build on this progress.

Language and definitions

We understand that language relating to identities can be difficult, and ever-evolving. We are open to challenge on this, and acknowledge that, due to the complexity and diversity of perspectives, we may not get it right for everyone. We are committed to an ongoing dialogue about the use of language relating to diversity and inclusion in all of our work. We will ensure this is reflected within our corporate tone of voice and style guidelines.

‘Inclusion’, ‘diversity’ and ‘equality’ are often used interchangeably. However, they are distinct, equally important and interdependent. It is helpful to clarify what we mean by these terms in this strategy.  

The definitions of these terms outlined in the Museums Association’s report ‘Valuing Diversity: The Case for Inclusive Museums’ (The Museums Association, 2017) underpin our strategy:  


'Inclusion' recognises that people need to feel connected and engaged. It can be defined as a state of being and feeling valued, respected and supported. Practising inclusion is necessary for diversity initiatives to work effectively.


'Diversity' is any characteristic that can differentiate groups and individuals from one another. This includes the protected characteristics as defined by the Equalities Act 2010. It also includes other characteristics, such as socioeconomic background and status, and values diversity of perspectives and life experience. 


'Equality' recognises that every individual should have equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents. It recognises that certain groups of people with particular characteristics have, both today and in the past, experienced discrimination.

Priority audiences

Inclusive practice means working in a way in which no one feels excluded. As an organisation and as a sector we have made progress in inclusion, but there is still a lot of work to do. It is therefore necessary to prioritise activities that include those people who are least represented in our workforce and/or are least involved in our work.

Through our inclusion strategy, we hope to ensure that Historic England’s work delivers outcomes for people as well as places. We aim to address the inequalities faced in accessing, getting involved with, and enjoying heritage.

Our vision for inclusive heritage, and for an inclusive sector, is one which represents diverse ethnic communities, is accessible for all and delivers for those who are disadvantaged by their social and/or economic background or circumstances, or by where they live.  

A diverse and inclusive story of England’s heritage is one that celebrates and recognises everyone’s heritage, including those of ethnically diverse communities, LGBTQ+ people, Disabled people and young people.  

We understand that different aspects of identities can combine to create unique barriers and experiences of discrimination. We are committed to developing our understanding of these experiences and how we can take them into account in taking forward our work. 

Our ambitions

Inclusion, Diversity and Equality is a corporate priority for Historic England. Our strategy is based on the three intended outcomes for our work in this area:

  1. We are more inclusive and role model greater diversity in our people and practices
  2. A greater diversity of people engage with the historic environment through the work we do and the programmes and organisations we fund
  3. The heritage sector is more inclusive and benefits from greater diversity

Our ambitions, which will help us to achieve these outcomes, are:  

  • A diverse sector: The demographics of the workforce of Historic England and the sector will be reflective of national demographics, and a greater number and diversity of young people will have access to career development opportunities across the heritage sector
  • Everyone’s Heritage: People from every community will be able to see their own culture and heritage represented in the work of Historic England and feel that the historic environment is relevant to them
  • Building the future audience: All children and young people will feel proud of where they live, and have the opportunity to get involved with conserving, defining and interpreting their local heritage

The following principles underpin these ambitions: 

  • We will make strategic decisions and take actions based on insight and data, and will strive to understand what heritage means for different people 
  • We will work in partnership with others in all areas of inclusion, diversity and equality and will fulfil our role as an enabling organisation
  • The delivery of Historic England’s Inclusion, Diversity and Equality work will be embedded throughout the organisation and our work, and the Inclusion Team will provide guidance and support for it

What we've achieved so far

Historic England has made great progress since our first strategy was launched in 2020. Here are some highlights from the work we have done so far:

Our people 

  • We provided early career opportunities for young people, including 31 apprenticeships and 23 Kickstart placements
  • We are hosting positive action training placements and have provided virtual work experience for 140 young people
  • We recruited and trained 36 Inclusion Champions from across Historic England, who meet regularly to share challenges and solutions toward making our work more inclusive
  • We reviewed our employer brand to change our approach to advertising our careers. We now use a more inclusive Recruitment Platform called Applied that aims to remove bias from the hiring process and improve candidate diversity
  • We are recognised as a level 2 'Disability Confident Employer'. We achieved this through changes to our recruitment content and strategy, by introducing mandatory training for all recruiting managers, and providing opt in training for the whole organisation.  We are working toward level 3 'Disability Confident Leader' with expert advice from The Enham Trust

Our work 

  • Our new 'Everyday Heritage Grants: Celebrating Working Class Histories' generated a lot of interest, funding 57 diverse projects across the country. Most of the successful applicants were new to Historic England. We are currently evaluating the ways we made this grants process more inclusive and accessible and how this can shape future grant calls
  • Through our new 'Place Marker' scheme, we funded organisations working with young people in the North East. Participants showed how they want to creatively celebrate the heritage and places that matter most to them
  • We are celebrating our tenth successful year of the Heritage Schools Programme, which trains teachers and supports schools with advice and resources in some of the country's most disadvantaged areas. The programme embeds learning about local history and heritage into school curricula, develops pupils’ civic pride, and has reached almost 2 million children since it began in 2012
  • We created a new form for nominating places for listing and designation. It is important for us that everyone can help protect our nation’s heritage, and the form is designed to be used easily by as many people as possible

Supporting the sector

  • In addition to providing Inclusion, Diversity and Equality training to our staff, we provided free training to the heritage sector
  • We commissioned research to better understand the diversity of the sector workforce. This has helped us to shape future work to collect data actively and to support the sector to do so
  • We commissioned 'Getting On Board', a trustee recruitment and diversity charity, to help us gain an understanding of the barriers to diversifying boards in historic environment sector organisations. We are exploring the recommendations from the report to shape future work to address this
  • We have developed an Inclusion, Diversity and Equality advice hub to support the sector with guidance resources, toolkits, case studies and templates

Gender Pay Gap Report

If you would like any of this information in alternative formats: please contact Customer Services on 0370 333 0607.