Talk into Action was created by Music Mark to support organisations in the music education sector to achieve their Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) goals. We believe that building an inclusive sector, across all protected characteristics, is something we must all be constantly striving towards. Our campaign recognised there was much fantastic work already happening across the many areas that are encompassed within the term EDI, and we looked to celebrate and share this through collating resources, programming events, and developing training opportunities, in partnership with EDI specialists. However, we also knew that Music Mark, many of its membership, and the wider music education ecology needed help to further develop their work to be more equitable, diverse and inclusive.
Launched at the Music Mark Annual Conference in 2021, highlighted across the next year and acting as a focus for the 2022 Annual Conference Series (running events across the country and online to improve accessibility), we encouraged everyone to move from talking about EDI to taking action. As we close the campaign, I wanted to reflect on what Music Mark itself has done, is doing and will continue to do as we move into 2024.
Firstly, we are by no means ‘there’ with EDI as an organisation. We have moved forward in our journey, been challenged and learnt so much, but we will never be ‘done’. Never was it truer that the more you learn the more you realise you don’t know! By announcing that we are closing our campaign we are not saying that we no longer have a commitment to EDI, rather we are hoping that we have formed a habit, that EDI is becoming a golden thread in all that we do and that we are more open to learning and evolving.
So what have we done, changed, implemented, created as part of challenging ourselves to move from Talk into Action?
When we launched the campaign, we encouraged our Membership and Partners to sign up to a Talk into Action Pledge. That pledge, developed in consultation with a network of EDI specialists, identified four areas of work we might consider:
- Developing a meaningful action plan
- Supporting the existing and future workforce
- Adapting the language and communications we share
- Monitoring and reporting on progress
Reflecting on what happened next for Music Mark, I am aware that much of what we’ve done have been little changes which are making a difference to the way we work. Listing all of these would perhaps not be particularly exciting to recount in a blog, but here are a few of the more significant ones:
In 2022 we undertook the guided I’M IN process, meeting as a team together with one of our consultants and our EDI Lead Trustee to discuss ten key areas of our work through a diversity and inclusion lens. I wrote a blog about our journey earlier this year, and what continues to be the most significant take away from that process is the importance of listening to everyone within the team, and for us the Membership, as we shape what we do and ensure it is inclusive and diverse. In meeting the first of the four areas of the pledge, we have used the process (as well as other training we have run or attended as a team) to add to our internal action planning across all areas of our work.
Through our events, training courses, and webinars, we now reach a significantly larger network of music educators in comparison to when I first started at Music Mark – those who lead, teach and support. We have limited data to be able to map our journey, but data we now collect demonstrates our trainers, speakers, and attendees are more representative of the diversity of music education, and the topics we are covering are helping the sector to reflect on their own response to the many areas and facets of EDI.
Sometimes I wonder whether our membership notice the changes we make. Do you know we have an accessibility statement on our website (and have made some adaptations following an assessment of it by a specialist)? Or that we provide accessibility information for each event we run and require our speakers to consider how they will ensure their presentations are inclusive? Through surveys we are also monitoring the diversity of our audience and those applying to work with Music Mark, which can help us to identify gaps in our reach, consider what we can do to attract a more diverse audience, and how best to run our application process to make it as inclusive and accessible as possible. Not all EDI work is visible, but I am proud that as a team we know we have made meaningful changes.
Our annual survey each spring is another moment to help us to gain feedback and reflect on our work. If you follow us on Instagram you will have seen some of the results of that survey in our Annual Review, where we also reflected more widely on the 2022/23 academic year. The survey has shown us that we are doing better at addressing access and being more representative and inclusive, but we know there is more to do. Some feedback has been really helpful including reviewing how we reach more of our contacts with our campaign work as a direct question about engaging with our campaigns demonstrated many didn’t know about them! However, that question did also provide some encouraging comments:
“Talk into Action has been great for combining personal development and how this can be put into action within a work environment.”
“We have taken the pledge and attended webinars and sessions to gain insights. We have also appointed an EDI lead recently to address some of these issues.”
“It was important to me and to my organisation that we stopped talking about being inclusive and started doing something.”
As I said, we are still very much on a journey, we know there are many areas of our work which are not as inclusive or diverse as they should be and that we are not providing as equitable an offer as we would like. However, as we learn and adapt we are embedding more processes and practices which reflect our ambition for EDI to be a golden thread in our work, and having open and useful conversations as a team to explore what more we can do. In 2024 we have more training planned for ourselves and for our membership, and will continue to strive towards our EDI goals and support our membership and the wider workforce to continue with us on the journey.