The following statement includes a list of Action Items developed by BIPOC staff to be sent to the MFA leadership team. It is guided by the Black Lives Matter movement and written in response to the MFA’s recent commitment to diversity and inclusion. Please read and add your signature below.

Opening Statement

Guided by the Black Lives Matter movement and in response to the MFA’s recent commitment to diversity and inclusion, we have compiled a list of Action Items with the intentions of holding the Museum accountable and protecting staff of color—particularly Black and Brown staff members—as well as creating an MFA that truly values diversity, equity, and inclusion. Many institutions and groups of museum workers have recently published statements on the topics of antiracism and dismantling white supremacy culture. This statement is a participatory effort by a collective of staff who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color).

The MFA’s workplace culture is not currently an environment that supports the dismantling of white supremacy and the protection of Black lives. We believe that as leaders of a major cultural institution with the power and platform to enact lasting change, you have a responsibility to employ a diverse workforce that reflects our surrounding communities, creates a safe workplace that protects BIPOC from racism, and supports the retention and promotion of all staff from historically marginalized backgrounds. This work does not only lie within the Learning and Community Engagement department, or within the Director of Inclusion’s role—this work must be shared by all Leadership Team members and employees across the Museum. While we recognize that some of these conversations are already taking place among the MFA's Leadership, we are confident that this call to action is not redundant with ongoing work, but instead strengthens the urgency with which these changes must take place.

The Action Items compiled below for your consideration and enactment are just the first steps, but we believe that implementing the following actions will ensure that the MFA’s workplace culture can reflect the commitments that Leadership makes to diversity and inclusion.

We request to receive acknowledgement that the Leadership Team has reviewed our statement, as well as a commitment to develop a plan and time frame for the implementation of these Action Items. We also request that a follow-up meeting be scheduled with the Leadership Team and all staff (furloughed and currently employed) for the collaborative discussion and development of this plan.

Action Items

  1. Representation of BIPOC Staff in Leadership Positions*
    *Leadership Team; Department Heads; Staff with hiring and firing power
    • A BIPOC-identifying person must be hired in the COO position
      • The search process and decisions for the COO role and all future executive-level positions must be transparent to all staff
    • Create pathways for advancement by making more mid-level roles and utilize a pipeline to bring BIPOC staff from entry-level to managerial positions, and from managerial into leadership roles
  2. Improved Hiring Practices
    • Disclose salary ranges for open job listings to increase transparency and reduce barriers for BIPOC candidates
    • Pay all interns through dedicated grant/partnership funding or through department budgets
    • Implement cross-departmental, cross-level hiring committees for manager-level roles and above; hiring committees must include direct reports and BIPOC staff members
    • Recruit BIPOC trade-workers from local vocational and technical schools to address the underrepresentation of people of color in the mechanical engineering, electric, carpentry, painting, plumbing, and the facilities departments
    • Add to all job descriptions a requirement for demonstrated racial literacy/cultural competence around the issues of race and racism
  3. Funded Employee Programs that Support BIPOC Staff
    • Dedicate annual budget to support racial inclusion efforts:
      • Establish a professional mentorship program for the advancement of BIPOC staff members
      • Offer professional development opportunities with a focus on management skill building and leadership training
      • Create space for affinity groups to communicate with one another in a non-supervisory setting
  4. Language, Transparency, and Accountability
    • Reissue the MFA's mission statement to reflect a commitment to becoming an antiracist institution and to acknowledging its role in systemic oppression and white supremacy.
    • Implement rigorous, mandatory antiracism training for the Director and Leadership Team
      • Leadership Team members must be able to prove competency by an external standard before training can be considered complete
    • Provide mandatory antiracism training for white staff members, with demonstrated competencies of learning and understanding
    • Clearly outline how the MOU-derived $500K will be used, especially in relation to the status of overall museum finances
    • Include the following data in the MFA's Annual Report:
      • Number of BIPOC-identifying staff employed, their positions, seniority level, and average compensation compared with overall organization averages
      • Number of Black and minority-owned businesses the Museum contracts
    • Provide clarity on the goals and scope of work of the Chief People Officer, Director of Human Resources, and the Director of Belonging and Inclusion
    • Mandate disciplinary action for any staff member who has committed a racist offense
  5. Board of Trustees
    • Diversify the Board of Trustees and consider alternate ways for Board membership beyond financial contribution, such as arts experience and community leadership
    • Require Board members to undergo regular antiracism training
    • Provide clarity on the current make-up and decision-making behind Board of Trustees appointments
    • Include data showing how many BIPOC people hold seats on the Board of Trustees in the MFA's Annual Report
  6. Third Party Review
    • Hire and retain an external human resources consultant (after review of and approval by BIPOC staff) dedicated to investigating instances of racism reported by staff (not limited by time) as well as the adequacy of the response of MFA HR at the time, if reported. Release anonymized findings to all staff.
    • Launch a voluntary and anonymous survey inviting staff to report suspected racist incidents at the MFA:
      • Focus primarily on the question: Where do you see structural racism playing out in the MFA?

Closing Statement

We do not represent all BIPOC staff.

We bring these Action Items forward to call on the MFA to commit to the reassessment of its current diversity, inclusion, and equity practices, policies, and procedures. We believe that such a commitment to antiracist action and to supporting BIPOC staff will translate into a stronger commitment to the Boston community and further establish public trust, leading to a better MFA and better society. We also believe that these Action Items offer the opportunity for the MFA to create a pipeline of talented arts professionals of color and become an exemplar of inclusivity that other institutions will seek to emulate.

There is a genuine fear that MFA Leadership may in some way retaliate against those who are submitting these action items. Those who feel that by disclosing their identities they are jeopardizing their career and livelihood have chosen to sign as Anonymous. The current state of job insecurity adds to our unease. Nevertheless, we are determined to voice our call for change in the hope that we may work at our fullest potential as art stewards and employees of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, unburdened by current conditions of inequity.

Black Lives Matter.