Our volunteer demographic survey: an important tool for tracking representation
As part of Glasgow in 2024’s volunteer recruitment process, we are requesting that all bid and convention volunteers who feel comfortable doing so fill out an optional, anonymous demographics survey.
This is something which past Worldcons have aspired to do, but not necessarily early enough in their processes in order to be able to implement it. Multiple previous Worldcon staff requested that we try to realise this vision, and we have done our best to do so. The original draft of our survey was put together by a Scotland-based HR professional, and we have consulted widely, with, amongst others, the Accessibility team and with a variety of people who have some of the non-census identity aspects surveyed. When in doubt, we have used the 2022 Scottish census as the source of our categories, although often modified to slightly better accommodate some other major categories not represented in it.
Here, we discuss why we are doing this and how we hope it will improve this and future potential Worldcons.
Why carry out this survey?
Glasgow in 2024 aspires to welcome fans from all over the world and from a wide variety of backgrounds.
As part of our work to ensure a welcoming environment, we are carrying out an optional, anonymous demographic survey among people who express interest in volunteering with Glasgow in 2024. We would love to have volunteers on our team from a broad range of backgrounds, and this survey will help us to gain an overview of how we are doing, and how we could be doing better.
The survey data will help us to see any patterns or gaps that we may not otherwise be able to see. For example, if the data tell us that a particular group is not well represented on our staff, it will help us be able to consider what barriers exist to that group’s participation and if they are ones we can work towards lessening.
Personal data protection
The data is fully anonymous, and our process will comply with the European Union’s GDPR standards. Data will be stored in an anonymised form to ensure that no individual can be identified. Only a very limited set of staff members can have access to the database, and they are well-briefed on GDPR requirements on responsible data processing.
Surveys like this have not been carried out for previous Worldcon bids because it is challenging to do clearly and ethnically. They wish they had been able to, though, and the reason we can is because they asked us early enough in our process that we are able to incorporate it. Glasgow in 2024 believe that it’s important to introduce it as a new practice to help the Worldcon community as a whole track progress over time. Our intention is to share the anonymous aggregated data only – absolutely no data about specific individuals – with future Worldcons to help Worldcon organisers to gain insights and work on improving outreach to a wide range of demographic groups.
Another important purpose that this data will serve is helping us to secure extra funding. Glasgow 2024 is a not-for-profit organisation. Each Worldcon attracts several thousand people, and running an event that size takes resources. Even with our large staff of volunteers contributing their time, we need to seek financing from a range of sources. The fees paid by our members are a great start, but they are only part of the puzzle. Conventions often seek funding from other sources as well to enhance what can be offered at the event. With that in mind, we have researched the funding options available to us in Scotland.
One avenue for funding is state arts grants. When we officially become a seated convention, we intend to apply for such funding – but we need to start planning for this early.
When an organisation applies for arts funding in Scotland, the funding bodies look for demographic information about the people in that organisation. This helps them to monitor who their grants are helping and ensure that they are being distributed fairly to a diverse range of grantees. In that sense, their aims are similar to ours – they want to get an overview of how they are doing and make sure they are on the right track.
We would like to be able to supply that information to funding bodies with reasonable accuracy. That means some of the categories in our survey were formulated in a way that will help us to accurately complete the funding application forms, which ask about identity markers like gender, disability status and ethnicity. Some of these categories are based on the local Scottish context, which doesn’t always match the demographic categories used in other countries (though we have tried to include common categories from other countries too – we are a Worldcon bid after all!).
Using categories like these in our surveys will help us to apply for additional funding from local sources, which will ultimately allow us to offer our members more cool things to see and do, and a better convention experience overall.
We are the Bid Team for Glasgow in 2024 – A Worldcon for Our Futures. We are part of the vibrant Worldcon community. We would love to welcome you to Glasgow and the Armadillo Auditorium for the 2024 Hugo Awards. Please consider supporting us.