Opening Words from Sun. April 5 by Scott Wright

Good Morning my name is Scott Wright. I’ve been a member of the Ethical Society for five years now, and I am currently serving as the chair of the Diversity and Inclusion committee.

For those of you unaware of our committee, our mission from the board is:

  1. Recommend to the Board strategies and resources that encourage diversity and inclusion in the Society’s programming and operations.
  2. Monitor the Society’s progress toward achieving greater diversity and inclusion in membership, programming, outreach, participation, and leadership.
  3. Evaluate the Society’s leadership’s efforts in prioritizing diversity and inclusion.

Our activities over the past two years have primarily been spent in pursuance of the second of these points, having many discussions over the most practical and ethical ways in which to monitor membership metrics such as age, racial or ethnic identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.

It was decided early on that the two most practical and meaningful metrics for us to track for the purpose of trend analysis are age diversity and racial/ethnic diversity. Additionally, rather than taking a survey of our full membership each year to track these metrics, it was decided to only track metrics for incoming new members, so we can mark progres year over year regarding whether or not we are attracting more diverse members as we hope to be.

With these in mind, we then developed a progress report, which makes it easy to track if diversity for our chosen metrics has gotten better or worse, year over year. Our report also tracks the quantity and quality of our activities as a Society from a Diversity and Inclusion perspective. Specifically, we looked at events that occur on Sundays, including the diversity of guest speakers and topics for both platform and forum as well as the diversity of our musical selections. Within the last year, I have also been working with James to begin measuring the quantity and quality of our outreach efforts from a diversity perspective. The hope, is that through these progress reports, we will be able to see increases in the diversity of the members we are attracting, corresponding to efforts we are making to improve the diversity of our programs, events, and partnerships.

So, how are we doing? For context: We are on a program year delay with our reporting, with our last report, shared at the annual membership meeting last year, covering the progress from Program Year ‘17 to Program Year ‘18, and determined that the Society earned 10 out of 15 points, or what you might call a D on a standard academic rating scale. We subsequently provided a number of recommendations in our annual report to the board, which I will not detail here, but should be available somewhere on our website, I believe.

Our committee is currently finalizing the numbers for the comparison of Program Year ‘18 to Program Year ‘19, but preliminary numbers look relatively good. Pending some final determinations on how to count certain events, and how we manage to officially work in a comparison of the past two program years of Outreach events, we are tentatively predicting a score of 15 points out of a total of 21 (with our new scale), or an academic C-. Still not where we want to be, but measurable progress from the previous year, at least. The breakdown suggests we are doing fairly well in our goal of attracting younger members, but that there is still much progress to be made in attracting members who do not identify as white. A final, annual report will be produced detailing both our methodologies and breakdowns of our metrics,0 and will be communicated in conjunction with the annual membership meeting, however that may happen to occur this year.

I will leave you with a brief statement on our goals for the next year, which include improving our methods of tracking outreach events, expanding our scope to include LGBTQIA+ diversity metrics, and continuing to give recommendations and guidance to the Board, as may be appropriate or requested.

If you have any interest in joining this committee to help in our mission to improve the diversity and inclusion of our society, we are actively seeking members to replace current committee members whose tenure will expire in the next program year. Please contact me, Scott Wright, directly via email or facebook if you have any interest, or questions that I can answer for you. You should be able to find my contact information on the website, or send me a facebook friend request and you can reach me there.

Thank you!

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.