A young woman with a headscarf seated on the steps of Leeds Town Hall
We seek to encourage more diversity in people interacting with heritage and in the heritage workforce © Historic England, Alun Bull, image reference DP174187
We seek to encourage more diversity in people interacting with heritage and in the heritage workforce © Historic England, Alun Bull, image reference DP174187

Research Theme: #Diversify

We aim to increase the number of people from diverse communities and cultures who actively engage with, and support, the historic environment. Our research includes developing and testing new ways to promote the past in a way that is inclusive to all and that celebrates the cultural diversity of England's heritage.

There are two main elements to research in this topic:

Exploring diversity

England’s heritage tells the stories of countless diverse individuals, communities and groups who have travelled here from overseas, settled here and whose lives are reflected in the archaeological record, or have influenced and enhanced the built environment. Groups that may be marginalised in traditional historical narratives can have their stories read in England’s archaeological and built heritage. We want to ensure that these different voices and histories are heard, and that the heritage we value and protect reflects the diversity of modern day England.

Research will have impact if it helps us to share and to understand the different heritage values of diverse groups and cultures, and the best ways to research and record their heritage. It will find the best ways to share this research with different communities. It will identify the experts among them with whom we should be working and learning. It will also help enrich the National Heritage List for England, and to inform our priorities for statutory protection to ensure we keep abreast of 21st century values.

Research questions that will help our mission include:

  • What are the influences of colonialism, globalisation and migration on English architecture?
  • What has been the contribution of women architects, designers and builders as well as women with hidden or unacknowledged roles?
  • What has been the influence of individual tradespeople (for example builders, gardeners and craft workers) on the historic environment?
  • How should we record and value the heritage of transient groups such as Roma/travellers or new immigrant groups who have passed through and changed history but left little tangible trace?
  • How do we value the intangible heritage of the ordinary? How do we recognise the significance of commonplace buildings where extraordinary things happened?
  • What is the impact of new immigrant groups on historic rural locations?
  • What is valued as heritage by young people?
  • How does the historic environment reflect the diversity of subcultures and contested spaces such as squats, nightclubs and carnivals or sites of protest?

Find out more about our research into encouraging more diverse participation in heritage

See our existing inclusive research projects 

Workforce diversity

A heritage workforce that reflects the diversity of society will enable Historic England and the wider sector to become and remain relevant. We wish to use our influence in the sector to create a more diverse heritage and cultural workforce. We have published our  Workforce Diversity Strategy  and accompanying Action Plan. Research underpins this plan, providing a better understanding of the present situation, setting out ways to improve it and plan for the future.

Research will have impact if it helps us identify under-representation at all areas and levels of the heritage sector, identify the cause(s) for the lack of diversity to complement existing quantitative studies, develop plans to promote diversity within the workforce and, ultimately, achieve and show evidence for a more balanced representation across the sector workforce.

Research questions that will help our mission include:

  • What does a synthesis of existing research that profiles the heritage sector workforce and its level of diversity tell us in aggregate?
  • What are the perceived barriers to employment in the heritage sector and how do education choices relate to subsequent employment decisions?
  • What works? What case studies of current good practice and role models exist within the heritage sector?
  • How can organisations develop better recruitment policies, corporate governance, and better targeted programmes of diversity awareness and advice?
  • How can we build stronger links between heritage sector organisations and diverse communities?
  • How can we develop forecasts and scenarios of heritage in the future based on current profile and local, regional and national demographic forecasts?

Find out more about our research into the heritage sector workforce

See Historic England's policy on diversity in our workforce

Collaborate with us

If you'd like to collaborate with us on this theme please use the contact address below to get in touch.