Analysing Diversity Data for the Academy of Medical Sciences

The Challenge

The Academy of Medical Sciences is an independent body in the UK representing the broad range of medical sciences. It is made up of around 1,300 Fellows who are elected from fields across the biomedical and health sciences including laboratory science, clinical academic medicine, veterinary science, dentistry, medical and nursing care, and other professions allied to medical science. The Academy’s mission is to advance biomedical and health research and its translation into benefits for society. It achieves this through promoting excellence, developing talented researchers, influencing research and policy and engaging patients, the public and professionals.

The Academy is committed to working towards full equality of opportunity within the organisation and its work, and publish a yearly diversity report based on data collected internally on all key work areas. For the 2019-20 diversity report, the Academy approached Select Statistics and Inclusive Recruiting (a recruitment and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) consultancy who teach, train and transform workplaces to become more equitable) to provide an independent analysis and assessment of how inclusive and diverse the organisation is.

The Solution

We worked in partnership with Vanessa Johnson-Burgess, CEO at Inclusive Recruiting, to produce the diversity report collaboratively. Select Statistics provided the quantitative focus to the report, analysing data and producing frequency tables, visualisations, and conducting hypothesis tests. Vanessa interpreted the diversity data and translated the results into what they meant for EDI at the Academy and what actions they might take. We worked together at each step to ensure that the figures and tables produced, and their interpretation, were both statistically rigorous and meaningful and actionable from a EDI point of view.

For each of the Academy’s key work areas (e.g., governance, fellowship, grants etc.), tables of breakdowns by gender, ethnicity and disability were provided and visualised using horizonal bar charts, an example of which is given below. The left-hand bar chart gives the percentage breakdown (with the total number of people in each category written in each bar) and the right-hand bar chart shows the breakdown of the counts. Key points from each bar chart were provided; for example: out of 1,329 fellows, there are 88 (7%) Black, Asian and/or Minority Ethnic (BAME) Fellows of which 50 (57%) are clinical and 38 (43%) are non-clinical.

Horizontal bar chart of the AMS Fellows broken down by ethnicity.

AWB = Any White Background; BAME = Black, Asian and/or Minority Ethnic; PNS = Prefer Not to Say.

The BAME grouping is made up of 15 combined categories, which may limit our understanding of how diverse the Academy and its work is across different ethnicities. Therefore, where possible we provided an additional breakdown of ethnicities to better understand the BAME category (see for example, the bar charts of the percentage breakdown of each category within BAME for Clinical, Non-Clinical and Total Fellows below). The statistical analysis and EDI narrative combined were able to support the recommendation that differing identities of race should be treated separately as these identity groups have a different and separate experience of discrimination and marginalisation. The report included recommendations to improve this.

Horizontal bar charts of Fellows of BAME ethnicity

Tables of success rates for Fellow and grant applications were provided and statistical hypothesis tests were applied to test, for example, if there was evidence of a statistical difference in success rates between different groups of applicants (e.g., males and females).

Using the above information, Vanessa from Inclusive Recruiting provided an EDI narrative reflecting on the key points and beginning to unpick some of the assumptions, understandings, systems and processes behind the data. This provided a stimulus for the Academy to begin asking questions to help understand how to progress in its inclusion journey. From the EDI narrative, key recommendations were provided to help the Academy develop an action plan to advance its diversity and inclusion work.

The Value

Based on the findings, 8 key recommendations were provided in the report to be taken forward to progress the EDI journey and impact for the Academy. By bringing together Select’s statistical know-how and Inclusive Recruiting’s expertise as champions of equity, diversity & inclusion, we ensured that meaningful insights were extracted from robust, data driven evidence.

Following a presentation of our results at an Academy Council Meeting, the Fellows agreed that bolder action was needed by the Academy for sustained change. As the Academy’s Diversity Champions stated in the foreword, “While the Academy has made efforts to achieve greater diversity and inclusion across all its activities, this report tells us there is much more to do.  It shows that the Academy’s work towards equality is an ongoing journey. Things do not improve overnight, or even from year to year, without deliberate and thoughtful actions. This report crystallises our desire to shift from ’chipping away’ to bolder action for real, sustained change.” Further information on the report findings and a copy of the report can be downloaded direct from the Academy: AMS Annual Diversity Report.

“Working with Select was a fantastic experience. Their rigorous statistical analysis of our data formed the bedrock of evidence in what turned out to be a seminal diversity report for us. It was great that Lynsey responded to positively to our request to work in partnership with our EDI consultants, because the combination proved to be a total powerhouse. Lynsey was patient and generous with her time and helped us all draw deeper understanding from the data we had collected. We remain in contact and look forward to working together again in the future.”

Nick Hillier – Director of Communications and Engagement