From 28th February to the 17th 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. 42 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.
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 4.22, an increase of 4% from last year. However, 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 fab socials and after-concert parties which allow the different groups to mingle with each other results in a more inclusive society and that’s amazing.”
“Everyone is very welcoming and accepts people without prejudice.”
“Respect for different styles of voice, different styles of performance, therefore different styles of people”
Q. What do you think we could do to improve this atmosphere?
Once more there were many different responses, some noteable ones are as follows:
“Maybe more non-drinking socials”
“Stronger integration between auditioned and non-auditioned group members”
“Change academy to “male identifying” so it is absolutely clear than anyone who identifies as male can join, and doesn’t deter potential new members from auditioning”
Suggestions have been highly useful. This shows one area in which members think there is room for improvement is the lack of inclusivity of the auditioned groups. Running even more who society socials and concerts could begin to combat this. Moreover, the family socials have helped tackle this issue since last year, as such we should run more of them. Furthermore, we should publicise our taster sessions more so all types of members get to know each other (and the groups) before auditioning or not.
Since the survey was run, the description of Academy’s group has been changed to “male-identifying”, to support the diversity of all members.
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:
“Overall society cohesion and stronger friendships across groups”
“Definitely in the cohesiveness between different groups. Everyone is more friendly now.”
The responses highlight the improvement changes such as taster sessions and whole society socials have made, as suggested by the equality report of 2017. To further increase inclusivity, we shall continue to have these and introduce more of them.
- Have more non-drinking socials planned to increase participation outside of drinking culture
- Run more family socials and taster sessions to increase cohesion between groups
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: 57% were aged between 20-22, 33% 17-19, 5% 23-25, 2% 30+, and 2% of people preferred not to say. This is a wide spread of age groups, and we have attracted people from first year- postgraduate age.
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: 83% no, 12% yes, 5% prefer not to say. Around 15% of the UK population has a disability, so our figures of 12-17% of the society being a person with a disability, it is clear the society is accessible.
Q: What is your ethnic group?
The results were as follows: 76% White British, 10% Mixed/ multiple ethnic groups, 7% Asian/British Asian, 7% White Non-British. 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 no 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: 55% heterosexual, 26% bisexual, 10% gay, 2% Asexual, 2% pansexual, 5% prefer not to say or other. The office for national statistics identified 2% of the UK population as LGBTQ+, with 4.1% of 16-24 year olds (the society’s most common ages) identifying as such. Clearly, participation in the society by LGBTQ+ students is exceptionally high. To maintain an inclusive atmosphere for such students, we will continue to have strong ties with the LGBTQ+ society, and socials in space spaces for members (i.e. OMG club).
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% no, 10% yes. Those who said yes, answered as being gender fluid, transgender and male, and non-binary. Once again, the society has particularly high participation levels of students who consider their gender identity different to their sex registered at birth. As such we will continue to support them a2nd provide an inclusive environment in which to thrive.
Q: What is your religion or belief?
The results were as follows: 50% atheist, 26% Christian, 7% Jewish, 5% prefer not to say, 2% Buddhist, 2% Hindu, 8% other. 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: 42 people responded to this, 1 being not diverse and 5 being very diverse The average result was 4, with 74% 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 noteable of which was reaching our and collaborating with other societies:
“Partnerships with other groups (e.g. collaborative performances or sessions with other music related societies like BUMS, JFS, MTB etc.)”
“Interact with groups like the LGBT society for socials and to increase engagement”
These don’t raise issues as such, suggesting people are generally satisfied but give us some ways we could improve. A key theme is collaboration, whether with Erasmus or other societies like LGBT+. Doing events with these more diverse groups may attract people to the society.
- Continue to have social events at OMG to provide support to LGBTQ+ community within the society
- Attempt to reach out and collaborate with societies such as ;GBT and BME in the coming years.
- Groups to perform not just Western music, but perform music of other cultures if their members would like to.
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: 93% said no, 5% said yes, 2% said maybe. There were a further 2 questions, requesting details of the discrimination and if the society could have done more. Both were left unanswered. While the majority of participants experienced no issues, 5% had. Without details it is difficult to ascertain what this is. However, we will continue to monitor issues and combat them if problems arise in the future.
Q: What more could the Society do to combat discrimination?
There were 4 responses to this question:
“Ensure non-binary genders are given a fair chance in auditions”
“Continue being accepting of gender-fluidity regarding ‘all-male’/’all-female’ groups”
“Maybe make sure people know who they can talk to”
“I’m not really sure. Have an equalities officer on committee?”
The first two responses concern people of non-binary genders. Since the survey was sent out, a decision was made to change the all-male group, Academy, to ‘all-male identifying’, in order to ensure equality amongst its members and auditionees were not deterred by the name.
The latter two responses reveal communication with members is highly important. As an equalities officer is indeed on committee, this shows a lack of communication with members regarding the issue. Therefore, we will make sure this, in future, is posted on the facebook page as an update.
- Continue to be vigilant of discrimination
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: 38% voted 5, 43% voted 4, 19% voted 3. This is an average score of 4.19/5. 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 10 responses to this. Here are some of the most common:
“It’s important to make sure that everyone who has membership is added to the member facebook group as soon as they bought it”
“Online version of a suggestion box”
“Nothing, I think you’re doing a fantastic job. One thing I would say is make the minutes for the committee meetings more accessible (ie post them within 24 hours of the meeting happening so the rest of the society can keep up to date with the goings on) and also just make it clear that you don’t have to be on the committee to attend.”
These are all suggestions we would like to implement in order to increase effectiveness of communication.
- Urge secretary to post minuets within 48 hours of committee meetings
- Creation of online suggestion box
- Group reps to ensure all members have been added to FB group at the beginning of term
Q: Do you have any other comments or suggestions?
There were 8 comments here, 3 were non-serious, the rest mostly commenting on the successfulness of the society, or filming concerts:
“I think all concerts should be properly filmed, and then posted on a google drive for all the groups to see – this will be helpful for musical directors to see what needs working on, and nice for others to be able to watch back their songs and show them to people”
“This is the most inclusive society I have ever been a part of at University, and it certainly really cares about equality and diversity. A society to be proud of!”
“Already good communication to members from group reps and weekly emails”
“Everyone is lovely <3”
The comments are testament to the inclusiveness of the society, and we will endeavour to continue such an atmosphere of equality and 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:
- Host events with other societies such as LGBT and BME to offer more diverse opportunities
- Continue with social events, especially at beginning of year
- Offer more support to all groups whether that be to run mid-term auditions, encouraging interaction with members, or listening to their feedback, suggesting how we could continue to creat a big happy a cappella family.
- Help groups to run taster sessions not just at the beginning of the year but throughout.
- Host more family socials for whole society interaction
- Host more drinking socials
- Socials to continue at OMG to support LGBTQ+ members
- 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.
We feel if we work hard to meet these targets, we will have an even more inclusive society that is welcoming, diverse, and equal!