Equality Report 2018/19

From 4th March to the 20th March, registered members of A Cappella Society were given the opportunity to fill out a survey relaying their views on how the society was being run and how inclusive the society is. 51 people filled in the survey with most filling in the questions sensibly, and those responses are what this report is based on. The report has been split into 5 sections: Diversity membership, atmosphere of equality and inclusiveness, harassment and discrimination, communication with members and our one-year plan.

  

Diverse Membership

The first part of this section concerns how diverse our membership is and, and the second part details how we could actively improve this to give our members a much more enriching experience.

Q: What is your age?

The results were as follows: 58.8% were aged between 20-22, 31.4% 17-19 and 9.8% 23-25. This is a wide spread of age groups, and we have attracted people from first year- postgraduate age, however there was no-one aged 30+

Q: Do you consider yourself to have a disability under the Equality Act of 2010? The Equality Act defines a disabled person as someone who has a mental or physical impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

The results were as follows: 88.2% no, 5.9% yes, 5.9% prefer not to say. Around 16.6% of the UK population has a disability, so our figures of 6 – 12% of the society being a person with a disability, shows that our society might not be accessible to all people with disabilities.

Q:  What is your ethnic group?

The results were as follows: 74.5% White British, 7.8% White Non-British, 7.8% Asian/British Asian, 3.8% Mixed/ multiple ethnic groups, 2% Black/British Black, 2% Other and 2% Prefer not to say. The Universities report on the ethnic origins of accepted students to the university, 74% were White. As such, our participation rates of white, Asian, and mixed-race students is in-keeping with the University’s listed rates. However, there is a notable lack of students who define themselves as black.  In the University’s report, 7% of acceptances were for black students, yet our survey found only 2% black students completed the survey of a black ethnic background. While we know this is not wholly representative of the society (just over half of members completed the survey), it is important to widen our members participation, particularly in the case of BME students. As such, we will attempt to reach out to BME societies and collaborate with them in the coming years. Moreover, it is important for groups to perform not just Western music, but perform music of other cultures if their members would like to.

Q: What is your sexual orientation?

The results were as follows: 66.7% heterosexual, 13.7% bisexual, 9.8% gay, 3.9% pansexual, 5.9% prefer not to say. The office for national statistics identified 6% of the UK population as LGBTQ+, with 4.1% of 16 -24-year olds (the society’s most common ages) identifying as such. It is clear, participation in the society by LGBTQ+ students is exceptionally high.

Q: Do you consider your own gender identity to be different from that associated with your sex as registered at birth?

The results were as follows: 90.2% no, 7.8% yes, 2% preferred not to say. Once again, the society has particularly high participation levels of students who consider their gender identity different to their sex registered at birth, as it was stated transgender people make up 0.2% of the UK population. As such we will continue to support them and provide an inclusive environment in which to thrive.

Q: What is your religion or belief?

The results were as follows: 49% atheist, 23.5% Christian, 7.8% Agnostic, 7.8% prefer not to say, 3.9% Buddhist, 3.9% Jewish, 2% Hindu, 2% Muslim. There is a strong mix of religions in the society.

Q: The Society is doing all that it can to have a diverse membership (rate 1-5)

Result: 51 people responded to this, 1 being not diverse and 5 being very diverse. The average result was 4.24, with 86.3% of people voting a 4 or 5. Once more, this is a high average, however there is room for improvement.

Q: How could we broaden our diversity?

Result: There were mixed responses for this one, the most notable of which was reaching our and collaborating with other societies:

“Perhaps greater contact with more diverse societies, particularly BME societies and the Gospel Choir society may help to broaden the appeal of A Cappella away from its currently very white base and inject a new stream of diverse talent and musicianship to the society.”

“Get groups more visible within the university sphere. People on campus need to SEE the groups on campus in order to acknowledge the opportunity is there. Whether that’s more balloon bar slots, designated busking slots for auditioned and un-auditioned groups round campus or more aggressive marketing around uni for the concerts as the society now has a name across the country, not so much in the locality.

“Once again, maybe a push from Academy to get boys interested?”

Atmosphere of Equality and Inclusiveness

This section of questions was concerned with how well the society creates an atmosphere of equality and inclusivity, and how we could improve. The questions and some key responses are as follows:

  1. The Society has a strong atmosphere of equality and inclusiveness (Rate 1-5)

The average response here was 4.41, an increase of 0.19% from last year. However, there is always room for improvement. We will use the next responses to see how we can improve.

  1. What do you think contributes to this atmosphere?

Answers were varied, ranging from the attitude of the committee, to the friendliness of members. Here are some notable responses:

“The fact that the non-auditioned and auditioned groups have plenty of chances to mingle, at socials and concerts, and the family scheme really contributes to this feeling of inclusiveness too.”

“Simply the friendliness of those in charge and every member, almost without exception! It’s clearly a place for anyone who enjoys vocal music, for whatever reason, no questions asked.”

“People’s race, religion or gender doesn’t determine whether they have the ability or passion to sing, what brings the society together is that we all love performing on stage with one another, regardless of our abilities. The large number and variety of groups we have, also caters for a wide mix of people!”

  1. What do you think we could do to improve this atmosphere?

Once more there were many different responses, some notable ones are as follows:

“Again, non-alcoholic events. The society is great for inclusiveness of minorities and LGBT members but not all of us want to focus so much on alcohol driven events and nights out etc. can be somewhat excluding because of that especially for people with (social) anxiety and non-drinkers.”

“More interaction between auditioned and unaudtioned groups (committee is doing a great job to encourage this but members themselves need to participate!)”

“Potentially having a wider range of song origins (e.g. musicals, pop, films) may encourage more people to join as the groups are more welcoming to people with differing opinions on music.”

Suggestions have been highly useful.  They show one area in which members think there is room for improvement is the lack of integration between the auditioned groups and un-auditioned groups. Running even more who society socials and concerts could begin to combat this. In addition, in order to include a higher diversity of people different kinds of socials, such as the suggestion of non-alcoholic events, should take place.

As well as changing/increasing socials, the idea of performing a wider range of music genres within the weekly sessions, would help more people feel included and encourage new people to join.

Q: If you have been in the society for more than 1 year, where have you seen an improvement in this atmosphere?

Almost all responses said the same thing; that the cohesiveness between groups has greatly increased, creating a more inclusive atmosphere:

“In my first year, there was no feeling of inclusiveness, it felt like one particular auditioned group lived in an insular bubble, with the other auditioned groups lacking that feeling, and I didn’t know anyone outside of my group or in the non-auditioned groups through a cappella society at all. The change I’ve seen in atmosphere has been huge, I now love socialising with members from all groups and the support for the auditioned groups is now huge and equal.”

“There is even more interaction between groups than last year; generally people know a lot of other people within the society, but this sense of community developed earlier this year than last year.”

“A growth in the culture of love and appreciation within the society.”

The responses highlight the improvement in the inclusivity of the society and that it has become more of one community rather than segregated groups. In order to continue this feeling of cohesiveness, more joint socials and chances to mix with other groups should be increased next year.

 

Harassment and Discrimination

The next section looked at any previous experiences of harassment as well as asking for ideas on how to improve any discrimination within the society.

Q: Have you ever witnessed or experienced harassment or discrimination within the society?

The results were as follows: 90.2% said no, 7.8% said yes, 2% said maybe. This is an increase of 2.8% who said yes last year. The details of the discrimination and if the society could have done more are detailed in the next two questions.

Q: If ‘yes’, please elaborate

“Increasing tension between auditioned groups”

Q: How could the society have helped more with the situation?

“Increase socials with auditioned groups.”

“Organise multi group socials for specific groups maybe? But this is kinda up to the groups themselves so I’m not sure whether it would be too exclusive”

Q: What more could the Society do to combat discrimination?

Here are some of the answers:

 “Perhaps an online submission doc to help people report discrimination with greater ease and comfort then messaging a committee member who they may not know or feel comfortable with.”

“Have more events like the scavenger hunt that integrate everyone”

“Blind auditions (the voice style lol)”

All the responses seem to stem from the idea of people not feeling confident and integrated within the society. To make people feel more comfortable, the segregation of the groups needs to be changed and more inclusive socials should be increased.

In addition, the committee members need to make themselves more approachable, so that if any member has a problem, they feel that they know who they can talk to. However, the idea of an online submission form would help overcome the communication problems between committee and the other members of the society.

 

Communication With Members

The final section of the survey looked at the Society’s communication and its effectiveness.

Q: The Society listens to its members and makes changes in response to their views. (Rate 1-5)

The results were as follows: 54.9% voted 5, 35.3% voted 4, 7.8% voted 3, 2% voted 2. This is an average score of 4.43. This is a relatively high score, however there is always room for improvement. The next question details how we could improve.

Q: How could we improve communication with our members?

There were 49 responses to this. Here is a selection:

“The minutes are great, but summations on the post accompanying them might be a step forward. My biggest complaint is that we have a lot of words and very little action from committee which has been probably at its worst this year.”

“Make sure it is advertised clearly that the equalities officer is there to listen to queries? I know they do a ‘banging’ job, just need to be more visibility on committee”.

“More surveys! We should have more than one a year. But the society is very good at listening as long as people tell us the problems!”

“Communication between committee and members of the society is very efficient thanks to weekly updates from committee and thanks to the many chances to meet and talk to them personally in the various socials”

“Perhaps have a ‘members comments’ section of committee meetings in which members in which members of any group can submit relevant comments (compliments or issues) to do with the society via a google form that’s posted each week, and they are rectified by committee. Currently there isn’t much outreach for unconfident members’ opinions on the society and it feels like there is a big barrier between normal members and committee, o some opinions may not come through.”

“Don’t rely so heavily on FB. Not having FB is an increasing trend, and even those having FB are more often overwhelmed with info and events and notifications than they used to be. Doesn’t mean don’t do the FB stuff (I find it very useful), but email is the way forward :).”

These are all suggestions we would like to implement in order to increase effectiveness of communication.

Actions:

  • Make sure all information posted on Facebook is also replicated in emails sent out to every member of the society (also make sure everyone is receiving emails).
  • Allow members to submit suggestions or queries online that will be discussed in the next committee meeting.
  • Make the equalities officer more visible to the other members of the society.
  • Short overview of minutes posted on Facebook/sent out by email every week.

Q: Do you have any other comments or suggestions?

There were 10 comments here, 2 were non-serious, the rest mostly commenting on the successfulness of the society, communication or integration/competitiveness between the different groups.

“Trying to bridge the gap between the auditioned and unaudtioned groups would be good. Of course the groups will be very close so they will be good friends with each other, but it can still feel quite cliquey at times.”

“Make sure all members of the society are very aware of positions on the committee and how/when to run for them! Invite all members to AGM!

“A Cappella is great, definitely the best society at Bristol <3”

“This society is the best and has made my first year more amazing than I ever could have hoped for 😊💕”

 

“There has been significant tension between auditioned groups this year which has left some bitter feelings. Would hate the society to go back to what it was like when I first joined. Everyone love each other and support each other and things will be so much better <3 xxx”

 

The comments show that our members love the society, however still see that there could be some improvement in the inclusiveness.

 

One Year Plan 

Using what this report has shown, this is what we intend to do over the next year to increase our equality and diversity:

Events:

  • Host events with other societies such as BME and other ethnic minority groups to offer more diverse opportunities.
  • Continue with social events, especially at beginning of year.
  • Promote groups and around campus, especially Academy, our male-identifying group, to encourage more male-identifying members to join the society.

Support:

  • Offer more support to all groups whether that be encouraging interaction with members of different groups, committee listening to feedback, or creating an inclusive, friendly atmosphere people feel comfortable to voice concerns.
  • Help groups to run taster sessions not just at the beginning of the year but throughout.
  • Increase the number of surveys throughout the year, rather than just at the end of the year, so members can voice their opinions continuously.

Socials:

  • Host more family socials for whole society interaction
  • Host more non-drinking socials

Communication:

  • Ensure all members know they can attend committee meetings and/or add agenda items. Also, that members know how to find contact details for the committee on the Society’s website.
  • Set up a system for taking suggestions, feedback and issues anonymously.
  • Make sure all members know who their committee members are and what each role means.
  • Make the equality officer a more visible role of committee

We feel if we work hard to meet these targets, we will have an even more inclusive society that is welcoming, diverse, and equal.

Read Our Equality Statement