March 4, 2020 – The role of chief diversity officer is expanding at museums across the country. It has, in fact, become one of the most important positions for shaping the vision, culture and very face of art institutions nationwide. It is also increasingly becoming a cabinet-level job, with a broad range of responsibilities beyond that of most administrators.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently selected Bridge Partners to lead its search for a chief diversity officer. The search firm’s founders Tory Clarke and Larry Griffin are leading the assignment.
“This is the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s first chief diversity officer,” said Ms. Clarke. “At a time where equity, accessibility and inclusion are considered fundamental pillars of community engagement and organizational growth in all aspects of our society, this is truly an opportunity to drive and support positive change at one of the nation’s greatest institutions, to provide a voice for different backgrounds perspectives and experiences, and to showcase an inclusive and accessible environment to millions of visitors who come to the Met from all around the world.”
“The role will be influential both internally and externally, with an opportunity to set a high bar for impact both within the museum and for other cultural institutions on a global basis—and you get to work at the Metropolitan Museum, surrounded by 5,000 years of art every day,” she said.
The incoming leader will conceptualize, develop, lead and implement long-range strategies and initiatives for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) policies and plans. The individual will be charged with elevating the museum’s efforts to create an inclusive culture and drive organizational progress, including: integration of DEIA into key visitor and business initiatives. In addition, he or she will advise the museum on emerging diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility best practices and opportunities to customize those best practices, as appropriate.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art wants a thought-leader with executive-level expertise, awareness of, and commitment to, contemporary and emerging diversity and inclusion as well as social justice opportunities, said Bridge Partners. These include, but are not limited to, the current research and pedagogical approaches that inform and address workplace inclusion, intersectionality, equity, unconscious bias, neurodiversity and work-life effectiveness.
Candidates should also have a track-record of successfully leading enterprise-wide initiatives in a large, complex. They should have demonstrated success partnering with key stakeholders regarding DEIA objectives and goals. In addition, Bridge Partners said that candidates must have a strategic orientation, evidenced through development and articulation of a clear, compelling and inspired vision and a sense of purpose based on the museum’s DEIA strategic plan.
Mr. Griffin provided further detail on the type of candidates the firm is looking for. “This is an experienced leader, collaborator and communicator with prior experience successfully leading enterprise-wide initiatives, at scale, across complex organizations,” he said. “In prior leadership roles, they will have connected DEIA to both workforce-related and business/strategic issues.”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, among the world’s great cultural institutions, has an encyclopedic collection of more than two million objects spanning 5,000 years, an operating budget of $315 million, an endowment of $3.1 billion and a staff of 2,200 working at three sites: the Met Fifth Avenue, the Met Cloisters and the Met Breuer.
Diversity, inclusion and equity have become headline issues, putting pressure on organizations and leaders to respond in a meaningful way. Investors are also expressing their displeasure with discrimination allegations. Russell Reynolds Associates’ review of 2017 and 2018 incidents involving bad executive behavior showed that companies experienced an average seven percent decline in market capitalization, or $4 billion, in the days and weeks following such news.
The upside associated with fostering diversity, inclusion and equity has also become more tangible. A recent McKinsey & Company study found that organizations with diverse boards and executive teams were up to 35 percent more likely to outperform their less-diverse competitors.
“On a personal level, as someone with a graduate degree in art history who has focused on senior-level diversity-equity-inclusion for the past 20 years, working with the Metropolitan Museum team on this search is one of the all-time career highs,” Ms. Clarke said. “On a professional level, there were months of thought, listening, internal and external engagement, and purposefulness that went into this role before we got involved as a search firm. That foundation, combined with the commitment to an inclusive search process, the transparency that we have experienced, and the high level of collaboration, have made it a true partnership and a real pleasure.”
Bridge Partners is a certified minority supplier and a minority business enterprise. Based in New York, with offices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Boston, the firm has completed higher education/academia senior leadership searches for roles such as head of human resources, head of finance, head of audit and deans. Its clients include Wikimedia Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Gallaudet University, Habitat for Humanity, YMCA, Denver Foundation, YWCA, GE, Starbucks, Estee Lauder, McKesson, Freddie Mac and Kaiser Permanente.
Ms. Clarke supports senior global search assignments for private sector, public sector and international non-profit/social venture clients, across all functions. A 20-year veteran of the executive search industry, she has recruited diverse executives, including CEO/presidents and their leadership teams, at both head office and regional locations around the globe.
Mr. Griffin partners with clients on leadership assignments within the private, federal/public and non-profit sectors. He has been in executive search for nearly 30 years and has recruited diverse leaders across multiple functions from CEO/executive directors/presidents, to functional heads including chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, chief information officer, chief strategy officer and their teams.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media