In 2016, the Abbey Theatre’s Board committee on Gender Equality authored the “8 Guiding Principles on Gender Equality”, which outlined the Theatre’s commitment to ensuring equality and inclusion are at the core of its activities. 

Since then, the Abbey Theatre has conducted a Culture Audit, which delineated key priorities in terms of Gender Equality and Diversity in both the internal and external ecosystems of the theatre. Furthermore, these priorities have been enshrined in the company’s Strategic Plan 2018-2022.

The Abbey Theatre’s Gender Equality and Diversity Policy hereunder, sets out the core areas of the theatre’s business wherein principles of equality and diversity are now mainstreamed and applied on an ongoing basis, with the ultimate goal of becoming embedded in our DNA.

Gender Equality & Diversity Policy 

  • Board & Governance

The Abbey Theatre will continue its consistent approach to ensuring gender parity on its Board and in its Governance and Management structures. It will also restate its interest in diverse voices in its communications regarding Board vacancies.

  • HR Policies, Recruitment & Selection

Within all existing HR policies – in particular, recruitment, induction and performance management – the issue of gender equality & diversity will remain of central importance. This will include a review of recruitment advertising [in particular the modes and fora utilised for communication of vacancies, utilisation of a job advertisement language review tool and the implementation of ‘blind CVs’ in screening], a revision of the current induction process to incorporate Equality Awareness training, and a new Performance Management model, in Q3 and Q4 2018.

  • Community & Education

The role of the Abbey Theatre’s Community and Education Department in nurturing young artists and new audience members is crucial. It achieves this purpose by engaging with groups and communities that may not always have perceived the theatre as welcoming or accessible to them. The Community and Education team will continue to work alongside academic institutions, local schools, community groups and other representative organisations to ensure access, learning and development opportunities are made available to the widest possible demographic and that the Theatre’s approach to gender equality &
diversity is embedded in all of these outreach activities.

  • Programming

In ensuring that the Abbey Theatre fulfils its role as a national theatre, it must serve its audiences through programming a diverse and wide-ranging repertoire. This necessitates: (i) an awareness and interrogation of narratives not currently being written or seen; and (ii) ensuring writing from new and diverse perspectives is actively nurtured.

Within this commitment is the necessity for gender equality, as set out in the “8 Guiding Principles on Gender Equality”, – which will be achieved over a five-year period, therefore providing adequate flexibility to manage the artistic direction of the programme.

  • Artistic Development

Supporting the development of the artform, in all its diversity, places a requirement on the Abbey Theatre, as a national theatre, to ensure it is accessible and receptive to Ireland’s artists in all their diversity. This will be actively supported through the New Work Department, which will report twice yearly on its gender statistics and initiatives such as 5X5, as well as consistently seeking out and nurturing new and nascent female artists.

  • Reporting & Measurement 

The ongoing necessity for measurement and if required, evolution of this policy, will be overseen by the Board on a quarterly basis. It is considered to be a living document which will be reviewed on the basis of its effectiveness, and revised, should this be required.

Inclusion Charter 

As part of the Abbey Theatre’s workshops on gender equality and diversity in March 2018, all staff participating in the programme were asked for their contributions to the company’s Inclusion Charter. These contributions were compiled into themes and circulated for staff feedback. The Charter, set out below, has been authored and ratified by the staff of the Abbey Theatre. All new staff – permanent and contract – and individuals working with the theatre
on a freelance or consultancy basis, will receive a copy of this document on appointment, and asked to ensure they understand, and will abide by its commitments. The focus of the Abbey Theatre’s Inclusion Charter is to ensure that everyone working in or with the theatre is treated with respect and given equal opportunity; their contribution is valued, and their voice is heard.

The Inclusion Charter complements, and aligns with the Abbey Theatre’s Mission, which promotes “inclusiveness, diversity and equality”, as well as HR policy in regards to Equal Opportunities, Dignity at Work, and the “8 Guiding Principles on Gender Equality”.

Inclusion Charter

The following principles set out the everyday behaviours that foster a healthy, inclusive culture at the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s national theatre:

For our staff, an Inclusive Culture means:

1) Treating each other with respect and actively listening to one another;

2) Being genuinely open to feedback and interrogating our own behaviours;

3) Amplifying colleagues when their voices are not heard;

4) Being consciously aware of bias and its impact on our decision-making – ensuring we question it in others, too;

5) Challenging offensive or inappropriate behaviours, through informal and open dialogue with colleagues, and if necessary, through relevant HR policies and processes;

6) Understanding that we all play a role in creating and sustaining an inclusive culture.