Equality, Diversity & Inclusion efforts require continual observation, appraisal and adjustment if they are to respond to changes in circumstances and attitudes. In this post we look at some of the feedback mechanisms put in place by Creative Informatics (CI), what that feedback said, and how we acted upon it.
Creative Informatics Partnership Forums
CI have consulted with peers and the wider community during our term to seek feedback and recommendations regarding, among other topics, ED&I issues. One avenue for these consultations is a series of Partnership Forums held in December 2019, August 2020, January and August 2021, February and September 2022, and April 2023, which were open to all and designed to share updates and seek feedback from the Creative Industries stakeholder community. At each forum, we shared updated ED&I data and reported on changes that were made as a result of feedback at previous forums. Attendees were asked about how CI have handled ED&I issues, for positive and negative feedback, questions and recommendations. Here we relay some of the recurring themes. The feedback has been aggregated and anonymised.
One of the strongest themes that surfaced in the partnership forums was that of access, covering difficulty attending physical events (due to travel or childcare) and difficulty attending online events (due to inequalities in internet access). The issue of juggling parental responsibilities was mentioned and it was noted that offering to cover the cost of childcare during events would increase the groups of people who could attend.
Beyond Access is a theme we call Belonging, which covers whether participants feel that CI’s activities are open to them, and that they feel confident and comfortable engaging with them. This theme encompasses many aspects, and it was noted that there is a need to reach wider communities (such as those in rural areas or young people). It was suggested that addressing this theme starts with using language designed not to be exclusionary, support to demystify terminology, and offering feedback on intermediary drafts of applications. The importance of peer networking was also raised.
There are many organisations – in the Creative Industries and other sectors – all grappling with improving their work around ED&I. It was suggested that efforts be made to consolidate these existing conversations rather than duplicating efforts.
There was a strong sense that Creative Industries organisations should make their ED&I intentions clear, perhaps by publishing a public statement, and then be held accountable to their intentions by making available transparent monitoring practices as well as evidence of concrete actions, such as instituting anti-racism training. It was strongly felt that the burden for change should not be on minoritised individuals but organisations as a whole.
Community members called attention to the importance of using terminology that is inclusive and the negative consequences of not using inclusive language, suggesting using terms other than ‘BAME’ and making sure to use language inclusive of non-binary genders.
6 Impact of Long Covid
The challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic were also mentioned, including how to navigate issues arising from long covid.
Creative Informatics Feedback about Partnership Forums
We also asked for feedback from attendees of the Partnership Forums about the events themselves. The feedback relating to ED&I issues can be categorised as relating to the themes of Access, Addressing Feedback, Diversity, and Inclusion. Feedback was almost evenly split between positive comments and suggestions for improvement. Comments have been aggregated and paraphrased for anonymity.
Concerns around Access related to the timing of the forums and their duration, and it was noted that this might make them more difficult for those with caring or – especially during the Covid-19 pandemic – home-schooling duties to attend.
2 Addressing Feedback
The comments on Addressing Feedback were positive, with attendees noticing that CI both solicited feedback and, at subsequent forums, communicated changes we had made based on that feedback.
The feedback on Diversity was mixed, with both an acknowledgement that the event draws a wide range of attendees and recognition that it could do better.
The diversity of attendees at the events is related to Inclusion, and this was the most populous category of feedback. Attendees felt that more communication around the content of the events, the expectations of participants, and the organisational make-up of CI and our different funding strands would have given participants – and potential participants – better understanding of what to expect. There was also the suggestion that the format of the forums – with participants being split up into breakout groups each addressing one issue – would have benefitted from better communication about what those issues were in advance so that participants could prepare their thoughts. Attendees responded positively to CI’s efforts to remove barriers to entering the Creative Industries and our attention to the importance of inclusive language led to feelings of being “heard and respected”.
Outcome of Feedback
Some of these suggestions have led to actions described in the CI ‘Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Policy & Action Plan 2021-23’, such as aiming to recruit a diverse range of speakers for events and conducting a consultation with dyslexic stakeholders on how to make our application forms more accessible. We note that as well as the wide range of feedback that CI have received, there will be a wealth of feedback from those that have not engaged with Creative Informatics, and finding ways to reach individuals who decided not to apply for funding would be immensely beneficial.
Our next Partnership Forum will be held later this year – keep an eye on our events page for details. We hope to see you there.