Let’s Analyze These Top #AAM2019 Tweets

Museum Resources
Museum Resources February 24, 2020 Let’s Analyze These Top #AAM2019 Tweets

🙋Anyone not able to attend AAM this year?

Whether the reason was financial (institution not having the budget), personal, or something else, communication tools like Twitter can help those of us who couldn’t make it to New Orleans join in on the conversations that came out of AAM 2019.

In the last 48 hours, we’ve reviewed hundreds of tweets from AAM, analyzed the most popular, and included them below for your analysis too.

So… you want to play Unlicensed Psychologist and “Rorschach” some of the inkblot trends from the tweets?

If it’s not a “hell yes!”, it’s a no. 😉

Assuming you’re in, here’s how we’re going to do it:

  1. The content delivered in sessions is the inkblot. It’s the baseline info that those attending AAM had access to and that inspired some opinion/response.
  2. The tweets are the opinions and/or responses. These comments are what people took from the content, how they interpreted it, and what they felt was important to share.
  3. The fun part is what we’re going to do. We, the Unlicensed Psychologist, get to interpret what participants found worth communicating and from it, extrapolate our own meaning.

Ready to dive in?

Let’s do it.

Content Area #1: Pay Equity & Pay Transparency

Our interpretation of these ink blots: The people are speaking and they want equitable pay, pay transparency, and institutional rules / accreditation requirements in place so it can be enforced.

Here is what AAM says:

In the article Leading by Example, Not Mandate, Laura Lott, President & CEO, American Alliance of Museums, states:

“After thorough consideration, we continue to believe that AAM should not mandate the specific actions a museum takes to demonstrate its commitment to providing equitable opportunities for all. So at this time, we do not plan to implement a requirement to list pay…”

Here’s what the data says: The Institute For Women’s Policy Research reporting on the pay gap stated that, in 2017, women made on average 20% less than men. Specifically looking at women of color relative to white males, the pay gap widens. African-American women made 37% less than white men and Latina women made 46% less.

Big thing to note when looking at this data: there is a pay gap AND an opportunity gap; know the two.

Studies like the above on pay gap report averages of pay between genders, they do not account for differences in job titles, industries, and experience.

When controlled for influencing factors, women are paid 2% less than men with similar roles and experiences. The opportunity gap refers to how women and people of color are poorly represented in higher level, higher paying positions due to lower opportunities than white males are, which has a huge influence on the pay gap.

While pay transparency isn’t a cure-all, it can help with the pay gap by leveling the field through access to information. Discrimination and inequities are much more visible when salary numbers and ranges are shared, giving people the opportunity to speak up and request change.

If you’re interested in this topic, here’s what to do about it:

Individuals: If you’re getting a new offer or even if you’re already employed, negotiate your pay: the number one way to get an increase in compensation is to ask for it.

In negotiation, come prepared with what value you add and how an investment in you will add to the overall goals of the organization. If you know the ballpark range of the position, be brave and give the first number; we recommend a slightly higher than comfortable number. A higher number from you in the start can act as an anchor and influence a higher final offer from the employer. Important: if your number is too high above the range then it may challenge your credibility, so do your research!

If at first you don’t succeed, ask your manager what it would take to get there. Ask them to build a growth plan with you that follows a specific timeline to increase your skills and value add to the organization, while also increasing your compensation.

Finally, understand the market for your job, location, and your overall compensation; there can be more valuable things than base pay (for example vacation, remote work, and benefits packages). Know what works for you and what you can/are willing to accept.

Organizations: Start from within. Critique your own recruiting, hiring, and promotion procedures and push for equity. What factors do you use to make decisions about promotions and pay? How can you reduce the opportunity gap? Here are four specific tips:

  1. At each stage, intentionally look for ways to remove biases and promote equity. Here’s an example: consider not asking for the applicant’s address, which can inadvertently lead to assumptions about education, race, socio-economic status and other factors. Instead you can ask: Do you have the ability to regularly and reliably commute to X location (yes, no, would be willing to relocate). You could also request an assistant remove names before you review applications. See ‘Whitening’ the Résumé for more info on the influence a name can have.
  2. Have multiple staff members review each candidate and rate them independently of the others. One strong opinion can sway others, so following this process allows for individual opinions. Also encourage staff to ask questions about how each other came to their ratings as a check and balance.  
  3. Intentionally invest in the career growth and training for women, people of color, and those that may be affected by an opportunity gap. For promotions and new job openings, even if you are unsure if a current staff member may be a great fit for the role, give them an opportunity to apply and go through the process. They may surprise you! And even if you choose not to grant the promotion / role-change, the team member will learn and develop from the experience.
  4. For working mothers, flexibility can be a make or break on if they stay in the workforce. Consider what flexibility you can provide to support their lifestyle and maintain organization goals. We are huge advocates of work from home arrangements and flexible hours, both of which focus on results over set clock-ins and outs and can be huge lifesavers while raising children and managing daycare costs. Check out this article debunking myths of remote work.

Make the effort. It’s worth it.

What we’re doing about it at Museum Hack: In addition to a 100% remote workplace, we encourage our own staff to negotiate their compensation, requiring them to build the skills and comfort level in those conversations. We ask them to prepare a proposal including past accomplishments, future commitments, and explore alternate compensation plans including bonus structures based on results. Each compensation plan is built around an individual development plan which matches where the team member currently is and where they want to go in their career.

We’ve also built, funded and supported Museum.jobs for ~3 years. Museum.jobs is a free community resource for museum professionals to post and access job listings. All listings are required to show compensation and experience required for the role.  

Content Area #2: Reasonable Work Expectations and Boundaries

Note: Ironically, we haven’t heard back yet from the owner of the original tweet mentioned for permission to use his tweet so this tweet is filling in 🙂 Thanks, Lindsey.

Our interpretation: In the museum industry, we ask A LOT of our people. Right now, how many 🧢👒🎩s do you wear? More than there are varying hat emojis? The answer is often too many, which can be a detriment to getting effective work done. People want to do great work AND also have a life.

What you can do about it:

Individuals: Track your time and productivity, even if salaried. This will give you an idea of your work commitments. We suggest the free version of Toggl.  

Be real with yourself if you work a lot off the clock, as well as if you need to spend your time more productively to accomplish the same results in less time. More time doesn’t always equal more value.

If you’re working waaaay over your role’s requirements, bring your time tracker to you boss and begin a convo. We suggest the template: “I noticed I’m working X, and my understanding is it should be Y. What do you see? Will you help me evaluate and prioritize my tasks/projects so I can find a better balance?”

Finally, be willing to look elsewhere if you find – even with your best efforts – the job you want, isn’t allowing you to live the life you want.

Organizations: Communicate with your team, align expectations, and support a healthy balance between work and life.

To align expectations, we suggest an open convo where you can propose real-life situations and ask everyone to write down individually, what they feel are the expectations. Example Q: “If outside the office or off-the-clock, do you feel an expectation to answer emails/slack/texts?” You can even do this through an anonymous survey if you’d like to keep it confidential.

If there are urgent situations that might come up which require immediate attention when someone is not expected to be “on”, detail what these look like and protocol surrounding them. Don’t let those exceptions of being on become the norm.

If expectations are not aligned, find out where the discrepancy is coming from and work to address. Once you have alignment, hold yourself and each other to it!

What we’re doing about it at Museum Hack: Open communication and a #TeamOfNinjas mindset is key. For team members that work at home and aren’t available, we encourage a 🚫emoji away message on Slack to let the team know “I’m OOO until X, text/call if urgent.”

We’ve found that simply stating this non-availability to your team gives YOU the mental freedom away from work because expectations are aligned. Your team also becomes your accountabilibuddy to cover things while you’re out and can also call you out if you’re emailing while on vacation.

We also recognize what works today, might not work tomorrow. We’ve had staff move from part-time roles to FT roles, from FT to contractor, from contractor to department managers, and all the combos in between!

Important: a team member taking a step back or reducing their hourly commitment for a period of time may be a great thing both for them and for your organization, just as it could be with moving to a larger commitment. Find what fit your team members want, and look for a way to make it happen within your organization.

Content Area #3: Change + Commitment

Our interpretation: The museum industry is bursting with passionate, energized, and – wow – committed individuals! Their love fuels their desire for change and now is the time to take action.

What you can do about it:

Individuals: Recognize leadership doesn’t require a formal title. Be curious, be fierce, speak up and/or support those around you. Anyone can start a movement.

Organization: Give true agency to your team. Involve them in discussions about what change should take place, ask them for their perspectives, and encourage them to weigh in on how you’re going to get there.

After they do, thank them, actually make changes based on their input, and let them lead initiative. By giving your team members shared ownership of projects, they’ll be there with you working towards the same common goal and have a renewed sense of meaning in the work.

What we are doing about at Museum Hack: Museum Hack exists to reimagine the museum experience! This mission and belief expands beyond the visitor experience, into team happiness and work culture.

We recently created an employee run Culture Committee to help uphold our values. The Culture Committee runs initiatives such as promoting our #TeamOfNinjas core value by hosting quarterly healthy lifestyle promotions (example: daily stretching or hydration reminders), and our #NoFailureOnlyFeedback core value where they’ve built a peer shout-out funnel and anonymous feedback forms for managers. Template for the feedback form here.

The Rorschach Verdict

We’ve examined the ink blots, we’ve dissected the Tweets. What’s our biggest takeaway?

Conferences like AAM are f***ing awesome. They’re a great place to assemble people with diverse opinions and start meaningful conversations.

But conversations aren’t always enough. Sometimes they are a starting place, or a catalyst for further action.

Whether you were at AAM or not, if you want to make changes to your institution and the world of museums, you need to put your money where your mouth is.

Make a plan. Share your plan. Put the plan into action.

Conferences are great for ideas. Plans are great for making meaningful change.

So get out there and make some change!

PS: Looking for some resources to help make a change? We have tons. Check out some of our favorites below:

written with 💖 by Tasia Duske

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Comments & Reactions

  1. Janice Klein
    Janice Klein
    May 29, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Glad to see you put salary transparency first. AAM’s response is just (in the immortal words of the Tappett Brothers) b-o-o-o-gus. They have no problem with mandating ethical behavior about other issues (can you say “direct care of collections”?). I’d hate to think this just has to do with ad revenue. Not everyone has the same ability to negotiate salaries. Not listing salary ranges just wastes everyone’s time. For anyone who doubts this, Vu Le’s blog (Nonprofit AF) lays it all out: https://nonprofitaf.com/2015/06/when-you-dont-disclose-salary-range-on-a-job-posting-a-unicorn-loses-its-wings/. Time for AAM to do the right thing.

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