Category: CommunityTeam InsightsSocial Responsibilities
Alice James - Project Manager
Culture and identity have always intrigued me and explain why I decided to study history and archaeology at university. The opportunity to be able to spend several years indulging in studying the evolution of culture from ancient times through to the modern day was eye opening; and I have been fortunate to be able to continue this world of discovery by working within the heritage sector. Both history and archaeology are wonderful subjects for trying to understand our ancestors and their motivations. We need to start learning from it more, and to stop repeating the same mistakes and sanctioning people’s liberty.
I am also fascinated by how easy it is to identify who is reporting on an event by the various descriptions (for example, how different newspapers present a headline) and how different cultures interact with each other. I remember learning about the notion of ‘Romanisation’ and was tickled by the misconception that the Romans turned up and the locals instantly became Roman and suddenly had a better dress sense and square houses. It is even more amusing to think this happened again c.1000 years later when the Normans turned up and people suddenly had swear words and a posher word for cooked pig, ie ‘pork’.
Culture is constantly evolving, as is the relationship between different cultures. Our work as archaeologists is constantly adding to, and sometimes redefining, the similarities and differences between cultures. Sometimes there are ‘success’ stories when two cultures come together and share experience and knowledge, but sadly there is a long list of occasions when one culture has exploited or oppressed another.
LGBTQ+ culture is a fascinating topic, partly because it has spent much of its history trying to be recognised as a culture (even now, some people fail to accept its existence) and partly because it covers such a wide range of people. Essentially, LGBTQ+ culture is not based on concepts like race, gender or language. Instead, the culture is based on a shared history, belief systems and traditions. To me, it is more of a harmonising of people’s similarities and hopes, rather than identification of their differences. Pride is an awesome concept and it is amazing that it can now be extended to so many people. The right to be proud of who you are, your identity and cultural beliefs in the face of adversity is something I think we can all relate to.
Dave Fell - Fieldwork Manager
During my time in the heritage sector, I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of amazing people with a wide range of lifestyles and backgrounds. I’m proud to have been mentored by some of the exceptional women and men who practise archaeology, and hope that I have passed on some of what I’ve learnt to the next generation.
In some respects, archaeology in Britain is representative of the diverse society we belong to – except, of course, for the conspicuous absence of individuals from BAME communities. Seeking to redress this, I hope we can encourage and welcome everyone who is a passionate advocate for heritage and wants to learn more about their story.
Archaeology and history teach us that we all share in a human past which should be studied in unity.
Gav Robinson - Senior Project Officer
‘Reciprocal altruism’ is the core basis of any ‘community’ of social animals.
Or, in simpler evolutionary terms, those species that develop the ability to cooperate against a threat will out-perform those that do not. This behaviour makes that species more likely to survive in the long term and to increase its numbers.
This is how a species of animal as physically weak as the human race came to dominate the planet.
The global effort to combat COVID-19 is a demonstration of the power of working together.
However, in terms of human history (and prehistory) separate communities of humans seem to have always competed for resources. This competition seems to have developed into a taught behaviour of ‘us and them’ and the distrust of others, this is the foundation of modern inequality.
This feeling of ‘us and them’ was useful in the past for the survival of small groups of humans, but with a growing human population, human-driven climate change and dwindling world resources, as well as the erosion of the ecological ‘services’ that humans depend on the human race faces two possible paths:
1) Continued competition and inequality leading to a world system crash and potential extinction; or
2) Increased cooperation and sharing of resources leading to a more sustainable world system.
I know which one I choose.
Sarah Parker - Resource and Finance Manager
Equality and diversity mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. As a Human Resource specialist my response would tend to be around equality and diversity in the workplace. Equality is about respecting your team for their age, gender, race, cultural background, skills, beliefs, sexual orientation, and more. Equality for my role specifically is making sure people are given equal opportunities, equal pay and are accepted for their differences.
As a country we have laws in place to protect individuals: Equality Act 2010 and The Human Rights Act 1998. As a company we have policies in place to ensure that individuals know what is expected and, equally, to ensure that if an incident of harassment or bullying takes place it is handled appropriately. However, having laws and policies in place is not enough. It is our responsibility as individuals and as an organisation not only to have the words but to practise equality and diversity and embed it into the very core of our values. It is our responsibility to encourage our team and our industry and peers to do the same.
I am not an archaeologist but my experience working within the industry has, overall, been of an inclusive and supportive environment. At NAA we recognise that our people, their individual skills, and knowledge are our strength. As much as we are able, we offer flexibility and support to our team to enable them to achieve their very best both as individuals and collectively as a group. We provide training to our staff on equality and diversity, mental health and wellbeing and I have always found my colleagues very inclusive, supportive, and engaged with these topics
Archaeology in England has traditionally been a predominantly white, male environment. However, as the years go on, we are seeing more diversity within our workforce. Perhaps unusually, our Managing Director is a woman, along with over half of our Senior Management Team. At NAA I have had the privilege of working with and getting to know people with a diverse heritage including archaeologists from across the globe – Sweden, Iceland, Poland, America, Greece, Germany, Turkey, France, and Norway to name but a few. Within the archaeological sector I have known numerous people from the LGBTQ community, be they gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans.
Employing people from all kinds of backgrounds widens the range of thinking that takes place within the organisation. When you put a bunch of very different people in a room, they will each present their own unique perspective which in turn stimulates ideas and enables debate. It is this sharing of diverse knowledge, skills and experience which ultimately allows people to come up with the most creative and suitable approach to any challenge. Collectively, it is these diverse individuals who make a great organisation.
However, the work is not done yet and we need to continue to ask the questions: what areas of archaeology are not diverse? Why? Is there anything we can do about it? At NAA we are proud to work within communities, from primary schools to archaeology and local history groups, to encourage involvement and help to inspire and develop a diverse range of future archaeologists who can continue our passion of uncovering the past.
One of the things I am most proud of here at NAA is the community spirit that carries us through not only the highs but also the lows. When thinking of why we celebrate Pride there is a consistent message of ‘solidarity, community, and support’. With these three words in mind, particularly during the current global pandemic, the team at NAA has been showing that no matter what background you come from, or what situation you are going through we are here to support each other.
Celebrating Pride Month and equality through all communities goes some way to ensuring our positive ethos and that no one is judged. Every individual should feel totally comfortable and included just as they are. There is still some work to do but it is comforting to know that here at NAA we really are all in this together and I am very proud to be a part of it.