Equality Report 2019/2020 TB2

From 10th April 2020 to the 20th May 2020, registered members of the 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. 37 people filled in the survey with most filling in the questions sensibly, and those responses are what this report is based on. This is a very small number of responses compared to the previous survey and the number of members in the society – this may be due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as many people were distracted or may have believed term 2 was too short to comment on. Therefore, the results displayed in this report will be considered when making future plans, but it will also be recognised that it may not be an accurate depiction of the society. The report has been split into 6 sections: Diversity Membership, Atmosphere of Equality and Inclusiveness, Harassment and Discrimination, Communication with Members, Reflections from the Last Survey and Our Plan for the Next 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: 56.8% were aged between 20-22, 37.8% 17-19, and 2% 23-25, with none aged 26 or above. This is quite a wide spread of age groups, and we have attracted people from first year to postgraduate age, showing we are accessible for people at any stage in their studies/career. However, more could possibly be done to include postgraduate/mature students to broaden the age diversity even further. Our group Rebound, which involves the inclusion of alumni, 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: 97.3% no, 2.7% yes. This may show our society may not be very accessible to people with disabilities and this should be considered more when organising rehearsals, events and socials.

Q:  What is your ethnic group?

The results were as follows: 73% White British, 10.8% White Non-British, 10.8% Asian/British Asian, 2.7% Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups, and 2.7% Prefer not to say. The Universities report on the ethnic origins in 2016 (most recent report available) of accepted students to the university, 74% were White and 11.5% were Asian. As such, our participation rates of white members is slightly under the University’s listed rates, as is our Asian/British Asian membership. 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 (only a quarter of the members filled in the survey) it is important to widen our membership, particularly in the case of BME students. As such, we will attempt to reach out to BME societies and collaborate with them and their events in the coming years. Moreover, it is important for groups to perform not just Western music, but perform music of other cultures to broaden the accessibility and representation of the society.

Q: What is your sexual orientation?

The results were as follows: 70.3% heterosexual, 10.8% Gay man, 15.7% Homosexual, 5.4% bisexual, 2.7% Gay woman/Lesbian, 2.7% Pansexual and 8.1% 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, and we should continue to encourage anyone from the LGBTQ+ community to join the society.

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: 89.2% no, 10.8% yes. 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), however this does include people of all ages. 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: 48.6% atheist, 29.7% Agnostic, 16.2% Christian, 2.7% Jewish and 2.7% prefer not to say. There is a mix of religions in the society, however there is always room for improvement and collaborations such as Academy performing at a HinduSoc events should continue and others should follow this example and collaborate with other religious groups.

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

Result: 37 people responded to this, 1 being not diverse and 5 being very diverse. The average result was 4.35, with 86.4% 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:

“Possibly we could get involved with more diverse societies at the Uni and participate in events similar to east meets west?”

“Perhaps have non-pop music style groups. Where we sing more traditional songs from other cultures”

“Maybe committees could encourage international students in the society/in their group to speak about their culture among their social circle and make sure that people avoid assuming that references to British culture that are kinda niche will be understood by all without explanation”

“More inclusiveness between the competitive ICCA groups and the rest of the society. A lack of alternative events to those done by Acadepitch/those who can afford the time or cost to attend the ICCAs”

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 4.48. Although, this is a very high average 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:

“Committee pushing for inclusivity in events and trying to keep the two sides of the society interacting. Also the fact that we have such easily accessible unauditioned groups for people of any musical background/ability means that anyone can get involved, these groups are definitely the most important when it comes to keeping this inclusive and friendly atmosphere around the society!”

“I think all of the members of the society/group committee are pretty open-minded and aware of the importance of inclusivity, spreading that among the wider society/group. The large number of socials means that people tend to form friendships (often some close ones) rather than just being acquaintances.”

“Easily accessible un-auditioned groups that are still passionate about performing to a high skill level. Everyone just does A Cappella for fun and there is such an amazing community across the country because of it.”

“They regularly introduce and signpost the committee members and group reps e.g. at a gig; members of auditioned groups participating in unauditioned groups; whole society socials to meet other people from other groups.”

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:

“Make sure that auditioned groups don’t have rehearsals at the same time as unauditioned groups! Socials are all well and good for increasing interaction but if some members of auditioned groups are completely unable to go to an unauditioned group rehearsal all year, even if they had the intent to do so it would be so much harder for them to become involved with the unauditioned side of the society.”

“Continued promotion of all ability levels. Finishing of the digitalisation of society resources, maybe include files like warm up exercises, sight singing, and rounds for anyone to access.”

“I think having the Scavenger Hunt in first term would allow people from auditioned and unauditioned groups to get to know each other much earlier, and therefore allow the society as a whole to bond. Having it in March is too close to the end of the year for it to really make a difference to established ‘cliques’”

“More inter-group socials, especially auditioned and non-auditioned and competitive and non-competitive”

Suggestions have been highly useful. One point that came across in several responses was the idea of holding more inter-group socials between the auditioned groups and un-auditioned groups, as well as maybe having more whole society socials that involve mixing up people from other groups such as the scavenger hunt. Also, the committee are going to try their best to avoid auditioned and non-auditioned rehearsals to happen at the same time so that every member has the opportunity to attend unauditioned rehearsals and this will hopefully increase integration and cohesiveness between different groups.

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:

“The gap between auditioned and unauditioned is so much less evident than it used to be. There is a completely different atmosphere now, so much love and inclusivity”

“More integration between committee and unauditioned groups so even the less keen members can get to know the people who run the society.”

“An effort to allocate people from many different groups to different families.”

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: 91.9% said no, 2.7% said yes, 5.4% 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?

There was only one response to this question, which hopefully means there has been little harassment or discrimination this term. However, it should be recognised that many members did not fill in the survey and also people may not feel comfortable answering this question.

“Some members can be overly sensitive for the sake of drama. Some members I’ve seen thriving off other people’s/groups failures”

Q: What do the society do well at, in terms of combating discrimination?

“Having an equalities role on committee who everyone knows.”

“They are particularly good at combating discrimination against LGBTQ+ community and stigma surrounding sexuality simply because everyone is very open about their sexuality.”

“I believe there is an open and inclusive culture, with the committee setting a strong example of what is and is not acceptable behaviour within the society.”

“Communication is very clear, and I feel very safe in bringing up an issue because I know that I will be listened to and supported.”

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

Here are some of the answers:

 “If formal processes do already exist, perhaps these can be highlighted so people know how to use them or access them before needing to ask for it”

“Keep on doing these surveys haha and just make sure that if ever anyone witnesses discrimination, particularly in regards to race and class, that they know that it should not be tolerated and know who to speak to.”

 “Zero tolerance policy. And making these equality surveys anonymous in the sense of groups. By putting what group you’re in, the equalities officer can easily deduct who’s response is who’s which defeats the point of anonymity.”

It seems that many people feel that the people and process who deal with issues surrounding discrimination need to be more visible and easily accessible. Hopefully now the Equality Officer has become a core committee role this will improve. Also, in light of the response commenting on the anonymity of the survey regarding groups, it has been decided for future survey that this question will be removed.

Communication with Members

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

The results were as follows: 59.5% voted 5, 35.1% voted 4, 5.4% voted 3. This is an average score of 4.54, which is an increase of 0.23 from the last survey, however there are still things we could do to improve communication even further.

Q: How do we as a society communicate well with our members?

“Frequent updates over email & Facebook & a short summary of the minutes”

“Equalities survey really good and I feel like I can talk to group reps and some committee members”

“By organising regular socials, having representatives within each group transfer information and especially posting the meeting minutes!! I’ve literally read all of them, it’s just interesting to know what’s going on behind the scenes.”

“There are lots of feedback surveys and everyone in the committee is easily approachable, easy to talk yo and always happy to talk on messenger.”

Q: How could we improve communication with our members?

There were 21 responses to this. Here is a selection:

“Maybe the society committee could come round to one of the rehearsals of each group near the beginning of the year to introduce themselves to the newbies cos I feel like I only really know the society committee members who are in the groups I’m in – some I only know by name.”

“Group reps could be a little tighter on the relaying of information from main committee to their group. Sometimes they don’t say anything about an upcoming event or a decision the committee ahs made, so it is difficult for the less keen members to know about these (e.g. the Cardiff social, which took a long time to even find out if people could go before it got cancelled anyway).”

“Bring the society together as a whole more often, such as before a social etc.”

“Potentially more regular emails e.g. once a fortnight, as things can get easily lost in the facebook group.”

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

Reflection from the last survey

Q: The Society has listened and built upon the answers of the last survey (Rate 1-5)

The results were as follows: 45.9% voted 5, 21.6% voted 4, 27% voted 3 and 5.4% voted 2. This is an average score of 4.08.

Q: Do you feel that increasing to two surveys has been a good idea?

The results were as follows 70.3% said yes and 29.7% said maybe.

Q: Communication was one of the main points from the survey in Term 1. Has the society improved communication since the last survey and if they have how?

“Yes – there was a request for there to be socials organised between groups that had never really had socials before which was granted (between Pitch Fight and Susps).”

“Yes! A short summary now being included in the Facebook posts for minutes is really helpful for the less keen members to get a vague idea of what’s happening in the society. Group reps definitely started to give more information from committee meeting each rehearsal, but this may have been due to them settling into the role and could still be improved.”

“I think so, I get most of my info from the Facebook Page”

“Committee has become even more visible and available to members”

Q: Is there anything else that the society has improved since the Term 1 survey?

“They’ve been dealing amazingly with the coronavirus situation by regularly keeping us updated about events being cancelled and trying to provide virtual alternatives where possible e.g. quiz night, recording songs”

“Would have been a few more non-drinking socials (e.g. the board games social) which is great but unfortunately some got cancelled – please ensure these are included next year too!”

“More mixing of groups in socials 😊 there have many more chances to meet people in the other groups.”

Q: Was there anything you feel was ignored/not answered since the last survey?

“I haven’t really seen that much initiative in terms of making that the society is welcoming to international students but I’m not aware of everything that’s going on. There was also a mention of a social between Pitch Fight and Top Note that came up in the committee minutes for a pretty long period of time…but I’m assuming it would have eventually been organised if not for this whole situation.”

“Maybe that auditioned members don’t really attend auditioned groups but you can’t force them so it’s understandable. Maybe if the mds/group reps/committee members came then others would come.”

Q: Do you have any other comments or suggestions?

There were 9 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.

“All in all, I’m really devastated that everything got cancelled (as is pretty much everyone else). The A Cappella society and all the people in it have become such an anchor in my life, and having it all stripped away has been really tough. I know we’ll come back so much stronger next year though, and all of the concerts and socials will feel like a dream after being isolated for so long 😀 Massive thank you to this year’s committee for having things run so smoothly and doing an incredible job everything that’s happened <3”

“Personally think requiring someone’s group, age and race, though important in terms of tracking equality, removes an element of anonymity from the survey and could mean people aren’t as genuine.” 

“It is the best society that I have ever joined in university. Thank you for sharing smiles and joy!” 

“Don’t include group names. Once you do that, you’ll be getting more honest responses.”

The comments show that our members love the society, however believe we could make the survey more anonymous by removing group names, so we plan to do this for all future surveys.

One Year Plan – Academic Year 2020/2021

From the feedback that has been given in this equalities survey, this is what we intend to focus on in the upcoming year:

Events:

  • To increase collaborations with other societies especially those such as BME and other ethnic minority groups.
  • To continue social events, especially family and non-drinking.

Support:

  • To continue to combat any discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and minority ethnic groups.
  • Ensuring all equalities concerns are kept anonymous to protect the identity of the members included.
  • To continue with the anonymous suggestion form and to make it clear messages to the President and Equalities Officer will be kept private.

Socials:

  • To continue to have regular and welcoming family socials which focus on building bonds between members of the society.
  • More inter-group specific socials to increase integration within the society.
  • To continue to host non-drinking socials.

Communications:

  • To continue to regularly update social media and email communications to keep members informed on events and society news.
  • To put out two equalities surveys a year to ensure members’ views are heard by the committee and that any problem can be addressed.
  • Ensure prompt and clear communications from group representatives to groups and to put all information in the minutes.
  • Ensure all members know they can attend committee meetings.

We aim to make the society an inclusive, enjoyable, and fun space for all our members and, by working on these goals, we believe this will further what the society has already achieved in this regard.