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The following advice will give organisations the basic information on how to begin this work.

Data about your workforce

Having data on your existing workforce will allow you to approach equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work in an informed way, highlight gaps in representation at all levels of the organisation and help you to create a robust EDI strategy.

Know what your workforce looks like

Collect diversity data on your existing workforce, including extras and deputies, and when people apply for positions in the orchestra. To get a higher response rate you should give multiple opportunities for people to disclose this information, explain why you need it, and how the information will be used.

Example Diversity Monitoring questions

How does your workforce feel?

Collecting data on the way your existing employees feel about your organisation will give you valuable insights into the culture of the workplace and enable you to take steps to create an inclusive culture. You should also collect data on people’s experiences of applying for and/or auditioning for jobs. This will help you understand how your organisation is viewed by external applicants and identify any barriers.

Engage with your current workforce and welcome feedback on your proposals.

How often do you talk about diversity issues in the workplace? It's crucial that your current workforce is engaged and informed about EDI work at every step of the way. Communicate what you hope to achieve, why you’re doing it and what it means for your current workforce. Having regular conversations about diversity enables the existing workforce to take ownership of EDI agendas and helps to move things forward.

Setting up an EDI forum is a great way to create space for these discussions to happen and will help shape your EDI strategy. Forums must have clear actions and include people from underrepresented backgrounds for this work to be informed by lived experience and be effective. If there is a lack of people from underrepresented backgrounds in your organisation, then there are people working in the music industry that you can pay to help facilitate this work.

Advertising vacancies

You should have a policy in place that covers all aspects of the recruitment process from advertisement to audition. Before advertising, hold an audition panel meeting, that agrees what is being sought in the successful candidate, what kind of audition process should be used, and any potential recruitment pathways.

Review the language you use on your advertisements

Does the language you use present a barrier to anyone applying or exclude certain groups? Does the advertisement contain all the information people need to decide if they would like to apply? For example, salary and benefits.

Are you asking about access requirements proactively?

You should ask anyone with access requirements to contact you and include information about the accessibility of your workplace. This will show disabled musicians that you’re proactively thinking about their needs.

Include your EDI statement

Include an EDI statement on all advertisements for vacancies to show your organisations commitment to addressing barriers for underrepresented groups.

Use this statement to highlight communities that are currently underrepresented in your organisation and encourage them to apply.

You could include the following sample EDI statement:

[Name of organisation] is committed to diversity & inclusion and creating a welcoming environment for all musicians. We want to be representative of the communities we work in and welcome applications from all sections of society. We particularly encourage applications from [insert whatever demographic is underrepresented in your organiston] as these groups are currently under-represented in our workforce.

If you have any access requirements or have any questions about access, please contact [name of contact].

Review where you advertise vacancies

Advertising in the same places and ways that you always have will result in the same networks and musicians being excluded. Casting the net as wide as possible will result in a more diverse range of applications.

Various organisations exist that can help expand your reach to connect with a more diverse range of applicants:

Actively seeking out a diverse range of musicians and letting them know about vacancies is a great place to start. You will be building connections, relationships and fostering inclusion at the same time as encouraging more diverse applications

Bad practice

Reducing the length of contracts to improve diversity is not good practice. Recruiting more diverse staff on shorter contracts and worse terms & conditions than your existing staff perpetuates a cycle where underrepresented groups are more likely to be in insecure work and earn less. It could also be discriminatory and widen pay gaps. When appointing successful candidates, they should be ‘full’ appointments and not placed on short term contracts or with review periods or clauses in which give insecurity to appointees. This will enable them to commit fully to the organisation, locate to a new area or be able to speak freely without fear of any adverse action against them.

Implementing an EDI strategy without consultation and engagement of your existing workforce will work against creating an inclusive environment. It is essential that existing staff are part of the organisations EDI work.

Auditions

Creating a fair, transparent, and accessible audition process will ensure that you get the very best from the musicians auditioning and support work to increase diversity. Your organisation should have an audition policy that outlines how auditions will be conducted. 

When reviewing the audition policy, you should think about:

  • Providing EDI training, that includes unconscious bias training for anyone with a role in recruitment.
  • Is the building you’re holding the auditions in accessible? It’s good practice to send information about how accessible the building is to anyone auditioning. This could include information about accessible parking for example.
  • Using anonymised CVs to limit unconscious bias.
  • Shortlisting via submissions of recorded set excerpts. This could help discover candidates who wouldn’t normally be shortlisted because they lack sufficient orchestral experience.
  • Where possible consider using excerpts from a diverse range of composers.
  • Online auditions and audio submissions could be used as an opportunity to increase the range of candidates and help minimise the cost of auditioning. This can also help with some access issues (although barriers to technology should also be considered as well as differences in recording equipment and recording expertise). Online auditions should not be the only option and used in combination with physical auditions.
  • There may be players who are already well known to the organisation or in comparable positions elsewhere who may be thought suitable to invite straight to the trial process. To promote fairness and consistency to all prospective appointees, they should be subject to a formal audition as part of the process convened before the panel in the same way everyone else was prior to any decision being made on who to appoint.
  • Providing as much information ahead of the audition as possible. Explain who will be on the panel, what their roles are, information about dress code, parking and access information.
  • Convening audition and trial panels prior to advertising any role and select a moderator to oversee the audition process.
  • Using gender balanced and diverse panels where possible and limit the number of panels that players can be on simultaneously.
  • Creating a consistent, transparent and pre-defined process for scoring the audition, that is agreed by the panel and explain to the candidates in advance how they will be assessed. This ensures everyone understands what is expected of them. It also means that all members of the audition panel understand what they are looking for.
  • Using screens for every round of auditions until it’s decided that all applicants are appointable for trial. Only when this has happened should screens be removed. This will enable you to make decisions about positive action where there is underrepresentation in your workforce.
  • Ensure panel members can submit completed scoresheets confidentially to the moderator, so that the moderator can collate and announce the cumulative scores for each candidate prior to any discussion by the panel. The moderator should be someone not involved as a panelist. You can use our sample panel scoresheet.
  • Limiting the number of candidates who proceed to a full trial to as small a number as possible will help to expedite the process.

Trial periods

During trial periods it’s important to be aware of, and sensitive to cultural differences, as well as peoples lived experiences and different ways of communicating. Don’t expect the same behavior from all trialists as condition of entry - for example going for drinks may not be appropriate for everyone.

  • Long trial periods should be avoided. This will help minimise the cost for trialists who do not live in the area the orchestra is based. The process can be shortened by limiting the number of candidates who proceed to a full trial.
  • It should be made clear in advance what form the trial will take. For example, will candidates be required to play chamber music, sit with specific players or everyone. If they will be required to ‘sit up’ to a higher rated position, they must know that is part of the process and have as much warning as possible of when that might be.
  • Unsuccessful triallists should be offered full and transparent feedback if they wish to receive it.

Inclusion

Does your organisation support a diverse workforce?

Encouraging more diverse applications and recruiting diverse staff is only one part of the equation. Your organisation needs to create an inclusive environment or diverse staff will not stay long term.

You could think about:

  • Reviewing your policies to ensure they support a diverse range staff. For example, you could adopt the MU breastfeeding at work policy to support new parents.
  • Ensuring a culture where people are empowered to report non inclusive behaviors through creating multiple reporting mechanisms.
  • Reviewing the communities you engage in your outreach work. Are there gaps in representation?
  • Setting up workplace networks for underrepresented groups.
  • Using history months and awareness weeks as opportunities to celebrate and engage with diverse communities and organisations.

Join the MU's work for equality in music

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As a member-led organisation, the MU often asks for members' opinions on a whole range of topics to ensure that our work represents your views. Our equality networks are an important part of this process.

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