Equality Report 2019/2020 TB1

From 21st December 2019 to the 25th January 2020, 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. 64 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 plan for teaching block 2. Having two surveys per year, one at the end of each teaching block, is a new idea to try and further improve the society throughout the year rather than just at the start of each academic year.

Diversity 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: 53.1% were aged between 20-22, 40.6% 17-19, 4.7% 23-25, and 1.6% aged 26 and above. This is a wide spread of age groups, and we have attracted people from first year – postgraduate age, showing we are accessible for people at any stage in their studies/career. The introduction of Rebound since the last survey has definitely helped the diversity of age in the society.

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: 87.5% no, 9.4% yes, 3.1% prefer not to say. Around 16.6% of the UK population has a disability, so our figures of 9 – 13% 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: 78.1% White British, 9.4% White Non-British, 9.4% Asian/British Asian, and 3.1% Prefer not to say. The Universities report on the ethnic origins in 2016 of accepted students to the university, 74% were White and 11.5% were Asian. As such, our participation rates of white members is slightly over the University’s listed rates and our Asian/British Asian members slightly under. However, the University’s listed rates only considered students accepted that are living in the UK, there were no statistics for International students, therefore there cannot be a direct comparison to the acceptance rates posted by the University. Unfortunately, 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 no students with a black ethnic background completed. 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: 62.5% heterosexual, 14.1% bisexual, 15.7% Homosexual, 1.6% pansexual, 6.3% prefer not to say. The office for national statistics identified 4.1% of 16 -24-year old, in 2017, (the society’s most common ages) of the UK population identifying as Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual (LGB). 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: 82.8% no, 14.1% yes, 3.1% 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 estimated that transgender people make up 0.75% of the UK population (2018). 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: 45.4% atheist, 23.4% Christian, 20.3% Agnostic, 7.8% prefer not to say, 1.6% Jewish, 1.6% Hindu. 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: 64 people responded to this, 1 being not diverse and 5 being very diverse. The average result was 4.17, with 75% of people voting a 4 or 5. Once more, this is a high average, however there is still 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 reach out to societies aimed at BAME students to attract them to join, as we seem to have a shortage of these students in the society.”

“Promoting/hosting joint events with national/ethnic/lgbtq+ societies maybe”

“Perform more gigs for different societies around uni to increase reputation among all student groups”

“Maybe keep on advertising the group as often as we can to attract new members from a lot of different backgrounds and collaborate with groups focused on equality and diversity on how best to do that.”

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:

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

The average response here was 4.3, unfortunately a decrease of 0.11% from last year. Although, this is a very small decrease, there is always room for improvement. We will use the next responses to see how we can improve.

Q. 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 efforts of the committee, the kind and open attitudes of all members and the emphasis on community.”

“I love that the regular society socials attract people from all groups to come together – in my time in the society I’d say the last year has been the most mixed I’ve seen it. It’s been really nice to get to know people properly from all the groups, rather than just my own group. I also love the supportive atmosphere around competition season – having people from other groups come to support us at ICCAs made all the difference to how we performed, and it was so nice to celebrate with people afterwards. I thought it was so sweet of so many people to come to finals too!”

“Some members of auditioned groups also being in unauditioned groups, and majority of members also turning up to socials. All members are mature and no judgements are made based on gender, sexual orientation, or race which is amazing. Most of committee are also very involved with all groups so new members know who they are.”

“Welcoming committee, a variety of groups to participate in (mixed, all-female etc.) both auditioned and unauditioned, Give it a Go sessions.”

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

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

“I really enjoyed the ensemble showcases we used to do where a random collection of people from different groups could come together and put together something chill and perform it to the society – I’ve missed those recently! I’d also love more non-drinking socials if possible – I don’t often make it to the club anymore as I have to start work very early every day, and I feel like that’s meant I haven’t met nearly as many people as last year! More things like quizzes, chilled pub nights and meals would be really nice, suggestion of maybe a society curry night at a BYOB place so people can choose whether they wanna drink or not but those who don’t want to can just meet some new people without having to fork our lots of money for a formal?

“More socials which enable members from unauditioned groups to interact with members from auditioned groups – i.e. a social just Academy and Bristones, or just Suspensions and Top Note.”

“Encourage those in auditioned groups to go to the auditioned groups, socials for the whole society which are actively promoted at the unauditioned groups and are easily accessible (e.g. the family quiz had very niche a cappella knowledge, and those not in families were left at a loose end)”

“Setting up an anonymous form for general complaints and improvements people may find.”

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 whole society socials, as well as socials between specific groups and more informal 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 more chilled and non-alcoholic events, should take place. Also, the idea of an anonymous suggestion form is going to be adopted and posted every two weeks for members to fill in if they have any issues to bring to committee.

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:

“YAAYYY FOR INTEGRATION BETWEEN UNAUDITIONED AND AUDITIONED. There a few people in both. Now we have MDs who are either auditioned alumni or still in auditioned is cool too.”

“The relationship between the auditioned groups has certainly improved in the last 2 years, with much less harsh barriers between them all. I also feel that members of the unauditioned groups are more involved with the society than they have been before.”

“Non-drinking socials were almost non-existent last year, and it’s great to see more this year. Also great to see plans for singing skills workshop. Most of committee are definitely more involved with the entire society than last year’s committee.”

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. Also the increase of non-drinking socials this year has made the society more accessible for more members, therefore these types of socials should continue.

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: 85.9% said no, 7.8% said yes, 6.3% said maybe. 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 and how could the society have helped more with the situation?

“Not a particular issue…Certain members of groups being hostile and overly competitive. I think we just need to further reiterate that a cappella is something we do for fun and we shouldn’t let competition divide us.”

“Definite prejudice against international students in competitive group auditions. Time requirements, especially holiday requirements sees quite a few written off straight away, Some international students also fall prejudice to the social requirements of the competitive audition processes, where potential to gel well socially often counts heavily against many who are not prejudice regarding fears certain international students won’t gel socially as well, which is something competitive groups look for a lot in auditionees.”

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

Here are some of the answers:

“Have an ‘Anonymous Tip’ style route through which people could make comments and judgements and then at the committee’s and equalities officer discretion if things need to be pursued.”

“Ensure that all members know we have a zero tolerance policy, and that the committee is the place to take any complaints.”

“I’d just say make sure that members of unauditioned groups don’t feel overshadowed by the auditioned groups and that within auditioned groups there aren’t some members who feel overshadowed others (mainly in terms of singing ability – I think the sense of equality is pretty strong otherwise).”

“ Expand the equalities officer role beyond just the surveys to full role that is guided by the su equalities training.”

Most of the responses seem to stem from the idea that 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. Also, to make people feel more comfortable, the equalities officer role needs to become more visible and be more accessible for the members.

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: 46.9% voted 5, 39.1% voted 4, 12.5% voted 3, 1.6% voted 2. This is an average score of 4.31. 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:

“Make it known to members that any member of the society can make suggestions to committee. Also (I think this is stated in the constitution), make it known that all members are welcome to attend committee meetings as well, not just committee members. Also, more emails plz. Because unless you read the minutes people don’t really know what’s going on, especially unauditioned. Ensure everyone is either on the mailing list or on the facebook groups for all their groups and the society members page.”

“Anonymous feedback form for views, ideas, feedback, etc. which runs continuously throughout the year for all members to contribute to – discussed weekly at committee meetings. Also, the facebook committee minute posts could eb more detailed in what the society is up to (i.e. a brief overview of what was discussed that week), rather than just a link to the minutes which many members won’t bother clicking on.”

“Push group reps as the people to talk to if anyone has a problem”

“Maybe we could vote on types of social events we’d be interested in participating in/more opportunities to give feedback! :)”

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

Actions:

  • Allow members to submit anonymous 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 with the link and continuous reminders that any issue can be brough to committee/any member can come to committee meetings.

Q: Do you have any other comments or suggestions?

There were 16 comments here, 1 was non-serious, the rest mostly commenting on the successfulness of the society as well as some good suggestions for extra things the society could do in the future.

“I’m really grateful to be part of this society – it has played a significant role in my experience of settling in at uni as a first year student. I look forward to watching it grow in the coming years!”

“More regular showcases would be great! Just chilled ones, like chances to perform what your group has been working on without necessarily it being a big Winston/Anson rooms setting – there is so much rep that never gets properly performed and would be so nice for each group to have a chance to show some of this to the society members, could make a fun social out of it? More performance opportunity even in a chilled setting like this can improve a group’s confidence so much!”

“I love this society so much, it gives so many people such fun opportunities and friendships”

“I think the A Cappella society is without a doubt THE best society.”

“More non-drinking socials/whole society activities. Many people can’t make it to socials, not just because of not wanting to drink/go out, but also because of time/distance restrictions. A lot of people don’t have the time to lose a night’s sleep or to have a hangover, and especially older students would be far more engaged if there were more chill events. More karaoke, film socials, maybe even singing workshops.”

The comments show that our members love the society, however believe we could make it even better with some different activities.

Teaching Block 2 Plan:

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

Events:

  • Host/advertise events with other societies such as BME and other ethnic minority groups to offer more diverse opportunities.
  • Continue with social events, especially family and non-drinking socials.

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.
  • Introduce an anonymous suggestion form, that is posted every two weeks by the equalities officer and brough to the committee meetings to be discussed.

Socials:

  • Host some socials that pull together specific groups in order to increase the integration of members between groups.
  • Host more non-drinking socials, and maybe introduce some more casual showcases so groups can have more chances to perform.

Communication:

  • Ensure all members know they can attend committee meetings.
  • 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 and is there to deal with any issues members have.

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