(c) Angelina Bambina
(c) Angelina Bambina

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy: Executive Summary

At the ROH we believe that diversity is about making sure we are able to attract and develop talented people who bring more, precisely because of the breadth of their diverse backgrounds, experiences, cultures and outlooks.

May 2021

Recruiting and working with talented teams is just the start. We are working to create an environment where everyone knows they belong and feel that they can do their best work. This requires inclusive leaders with the ability and desire to continually seek feedback, to really listen and to establish a culture where diversity is genuinely valued and promoted.

Success in this endeavour is critical to the organisation’s future and we commit to holding our leadership team accountable for achieving these goals.

Context

It is important to recognise that our history is flawed and our record on diversity has been inconsistent. We are committed to delivering our equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) goals and we acknowledge that we must learn as we go. Making a difference requires systemic change and we outline here the steps that we will take over the next eighteen months towards achieving our long-term diversity goals.

Our Priorities

It is vital that responsibility for EDI is shared by everyone within the organisation, and our strategy includes commitments from every area of the House, in line with our values and behaviours – Respect, Openness and High Standards.

While our plan supports EDI in the broadest terms and across all protected characteristics, there is additional focus on addressing current under-representation in ethnicity, disability, socio-economic mobility and gender.

Our EDI commitments fall under six themes, which align with the Arts Council England’s Inclusivity & Relevance Principles:

Principle

Our commitment

Representation

We commit to ensuring our stages and events will better reflect and celebrate a diversity of communities and experiences, and we will programme mainstage and Linbury productions that foreground and signal our ongoing commitment to diversity.

Authenticity

We will engage more proactively with communities to ensure that our portrayals of diverse cultures are respectful and authentic, diversifying our stories and those telling them.

Talent Pipelines

We will ensure that we have diverse pipelines of talent for the artistic companies, back-stage and the wider workforce. We will develop talent and ensure that opportunities are accessed on an equitable basis.

Individual Voices

We will respect everyone as individuals and ensure equal access to the support needed for people to perform at their best and always feel safe. We will be reflective, sensitive and open to the range of lived experiences and will seek and listen to the different perspectives within the organisation.

Access

We will do more to improve the access to and visibility of our work with communities who have historically had less engagement with ballet and opera, and remove or reduce any practical barriers to access for our audiences and workforce.

Governance

We will further develop the skills required to lead our EDI work with cultural competence and confidence, and ensure we have progressive policies and procedures in place to support our values and behaviours.

Priority headlines from our EDI plans include:

  • A target of at least 30 roles per season being taken by ethnically diverse singers and at least 3-4 of these lead or title roles
  • Establish regular input from diverse critical friends, external advisors, as well as our own staff, artists and freelancers to ensure our future artistic programming and other activities are rooted in cultural authenticity
  • Providing mandatory anti-racism and anti-ableism training for managers
  • Forging new recruitment partnerships with candidate referral agencies, educational organisations and community groups that represent diverse talent pools
  • Launching a new front of house volunteer programme which is attractive and beneficial to the diverse communities of London and Thurrock
  • Ensuring culturally sensitive costuming, wigs, and make-up, by working with our artists to determine individual approaches appropriate to their own skin colour and hair
  • Providing an increased number of relaxed, British Sign Language-interpreted and audio described performances each Season
  • Advertising all of our board and senior appointments and appoint through open competition

The Royal Opera House Board of Trustees and Executive Team are responsible for the delivery of this plan. The strategy will next be updated in September 2022.

Find out more about what we are doing to become more inclusive, aware and engaged and our commitment to confronting racism and discrimination in all its forms.