Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

The BSA has long been concerned to foster practices that will encourage fairness and equality of opportunity in society, in the wider sociological community and within the BSA itself. Questions and suggestions relating to equality and diversity have been an enduring feature of BSA life and these continue today. Race, ethnicity, sexuality and gender issues have been a focus for BSA study groups since the 1970s (Platt, 2003, p187). More recently (2012) disability and (2021) social class have been added to the list of study groups. The BSA Statement of Ethical Practice and Guidelines for Good Professional Conduct were ratified by the BSA at the 1992 Annual General Meeting (Network, No.53 May 1992, p4). Ten years later (in 2002) an updated version of the Statement was published and in 2004 the appendices were updated. Also in 2004, the BSA published a set of three language guidelines for members on Sex & Gender, Race & Ethnicity, and Non-Disablist language (currently being updated). Equality, Diversity and Inclusion issues have been highlighted on the BSA website since 2006 via the Equality webpages.

Formation of the BSA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

In 2015, the Trustees agreed that it was time to review practice and policy and the make-up of the BSA and the discipline, and in June 2016 established an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to take this work further and to make the development and implementation of a strategy for addressing the key issues within the BSA a strategic priority for the coming three years.

The core objective is that strategies to promote equality, diversity and inclusion within the BSA will be further embedded into the fabric of the Association. While accepting the limitations of the 2010 Equality Act, the Committee agreed to work with the statutory duty concerning its nine protected characteristics to understand their relationship to inequality and diversity. [Age; Being or becoming a transsexual person; Being married or in a civil partnership; Being pregnant or having a child; Disability; Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin; Religion, belief or lack of religion/belief; Sex; Sexual orientation].

At the start of its work, the Committee discussed its remit in some detail, noting the following:

  1. The Committee should be ambitious; sociologists can and should be pushing boundaries in respect of encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion.
  2. There is a tendency to think of equality, diversity and inclusion in terms of people only but the remit should also cover what sociologists do in terms of research and teaching e.g. questioning the eurocentrism of sociology in general.
  3. Priorities are about presence but linked to the wider remit of sociology.

Data Collection Prior to the Formation of the Committee

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion information has been available to BSA members since 1992, first in hard copy but from 2006 openly available to anyone via a link on the home page of the BSA website. The BSA undertook some data collection relating to equality, diversity and inclusion in 1999 and 2011. In 1999 the then BSA Race Committee carried out a survey of the BSA membership and in 2011, as part of the BSA’s 60th anniversary activities, the ‘Mapping Sociology’ project was undertaken which produced some data on the diversity of the BSA membership. In both cases, a large number of members did not respond which meant that it was not possible to establish baseline data on diversity.

Planned Practical, Achievable Data Collection - Beginning in 2016

The newly established Committee agreed that it would pursue a series of activities beginning with a closer look at the BSA itself and then widening this out to delve into the discipline more broadly, including the following:

I. Audit of BSA membership
II. Audit of BSA trustees
III. Audit of editorial boards and their recruitment practices
IV. Audit of sociology departments
V. Collection of material on diversity in the curriculum – including what’s taught on core modules

Work to Date - 2016 Onwards

2016 – EDI audit templates developed including BSA membership demographic survey
2017 – Analysis of race and gender in leadership roles
2017 – BSA membership demographic survey
2018 – EDI training for all staff
2018 – BSA journals demographic survey
2018 – BSA trustees EDI audit
2018/19 – Additional governance demographic analysis
2019 – BSA Report on Race and Ethnicity in British Sociology commissioned
2020 – BSA Report on Race and Ethnicity in British Sociology published
2021 – Invitation to tender issued for contract to gather and collect teaching and recruitment resources and create best practice guides to support the place of race and ethnicity in race and ethnicity in British Sociology.

The Committee are realistic about the resource limitations associated with working as a volunteer group and their activities have necessarily been focussed. The collection of baseline data on BSA membership demographics and ongoing data collection at regular intervals to enable the BSA to monitor and track change over time has been a core in-house activity plus discreet projects to address specific areas of concern over time. The first focus agreed for discreet projects is race and ethnicity e.g. increasing the presence and improving the experience of people from ethnic minorities within the discipline of Sociology. The trustees backed this approach, investing financially first in the BSA Report on Race and Ethnicity in British Sociology (2020) and then co-funding (with the UK Council of Heads and Professors in Sociology) the project to create best practice guides to support the place of race and ethnicity in British Sociology (2021).

In seeking to achieve the goals of embedding equality, diversity and inclusion into the fabric of the Association and supporting the place of race and ethnicity in British Sociology the trustees and Committee recognise that this work is long-term.

Current and Planned Future Work

2021 – Project to create best practice guides on teaching and recruitment to support the place of race and ethnicity in British Sociology
2021 – Next EDI audit of BSA trustees
2022 – Next BSA membership demographic survey

Current Committee Members

Jason Arday
Mark Doidge
Stevi Jackson
Janice McLaughlin
Rima Saini

Contact the Committee

You can get in touch with the Committee by emailing Judith Mudd.

Read more about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.