Leader: EDI Ambition & Strategy at The OR Society


I’d like to use my leader article to share some of the work The OR Society has been doing related to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). Sharing some of the progress we have collectively made, the work still to be done and highlight some areas where you can help.

As a reminder, here are a few key terms:


EQUALITY: Everyone is treated the same.


EQUITY: Acknowleding that there are often unequal starting places and making adjustments to address that imbalance.

DIVERSITY: Differences in the membership of The OR Society.

INCLUSION: People with different identities feeling and/or being valued and welcomed within The OR Society.

Our EDI Ambition & Strategy

The OR Society now has an EDI strategy that has at its heart our continued focus on inclusion and a belief that EDI belongs to us all – it is all pervading. I hope that when you reflect on different aspects of how EDI at the ORS has evolved over the last few years you will see this strategic intent in action.

Our EDI Ambition

“At The OR Society, equality, equity, diversity and inclusion are at the core of who we are. Our commitment to these values is unwavering – across everything we do. We know that having varied perspectives helps generate better ideas to solve the complex problems of a changing world. We want our membership to be reflective of the communities OR supports; helping to maximise its impact. We want our diverse membership to feel they belong as part of our vibrant OR community. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to achieving our mission for OR and The OR Society.”

We plan to achieve our ambition by following our EDI strategy:

  • Inclusion unleashes the power of diversity. The OR Society will focus its efforts on inclusion; being considerate; creating a sense of belonging; asking members’ views of how we are doing; and working collectively to remove the barriers we are able to.
  • We are reflective of the community we support. We strive to make the membership of The OR Society more representative of the UK as a whole. We encourage the profession to do this also. We must remember that role models and representation are a very important part of this and we should be thinking about intersectionality.
  • We celebrate visible and non-visible forms of diversity. Beyond the protected characteristics we will consider other aspects such as neurodiversity, introversion / extroversion, practitioner / academic, geographic spread, social economic background and other non-visible characteristics.
  • Together we achieve more. Diversity, equity and inclusion is our collective responsibility and it will take a team effort, from the OR community, to achieve our EDI ambition.
  • Greater impact is achieved with focus. The OR Society will take a strategic approach to EDI, rather than trying to do everything at once. It will focus on agreed areas, delivered via the ORS EDI Programme of work.
  • We demonstrate our commitment to EDI by doing meaningful actions.

Our programme of work

Our strategy is being achieved via our EDI programme and
this is governed by The OR Society EDI Group. Some snippets
of progress that has been made:

  • Science Council Benchmark – We undertook our re-assessment in 2021 and this was an extensive effort involving many of the committees and the General Council. I am delighted to say that our hard efforts on EDI are reflected in our progress against the Framework. Moving forward we have new targets to achieve over the coming years and assigned owners for different areas. You
    will see lots going on across the whole of the spectrum of the Society to support our intent here.
  • Celebration days – hopefully you will have noticed a number of EDI areas we have ‘celebrated’ throughout the year. A huge thanks to those who have provided analysis and written pieces to support our efforts here. We are putting our plans together for the coming year and, if you are interested in supporting, please do get in touch.
  • Education – there has been an awful lot of education going on throughout the year. Recently the ORS staff, General Council and other committee volunteers have had the opportunity to attend the following virtual training:
    • A team approach to fostering an inclusive workplace.
    • Being anti-racist: developing confidence in conversations about race.
    • Trans and non-binary inclusion.
    • Understanding and improving disability inclusion.

  • The ORS joined the Employers Network for Equality
    & Inclusion (ENEI), the not-for-profit, employer-led
    membership organisation which advises on all aspects of equality and inclusion in the workplace.

There have been lots of little changes too, such as the moving the date of the Annual Conference so that it no longer coincides with return to school.

What else should we be doing?

On writing this article I reflected back to my first leader article
and my initial thoughts about what I would like to achieve over my tenure as Diversity Champion. I’m pleased to say that progress has been made against most of these initial areas. There is still work to do and we will plan in more, shorter comms to share what we are doing as 2022 unfolds.

We have also identified some new initiatives – more about these over the coming year. These are focused at encouraging you to take forward ideas of your own and for us to share EDI top tips amongst each other.

If there are some key things we should be considering, please do let us know.

How can you help?

So, as you think about your 2022, please do ponder how you could help The OR Society with its EDI ambition. It doesn’t need to be a huge thing to help. Some suggestions include:

  1. Volunteer to help OR in Education. In particular, to support our intent to increase the diversity of the schools we engage with.
  2. Fill in your diversity data, including when you attend events. It really helps us understand if our efforts are making the difference we hope they will!
  3. Learn more about an area of diversity you are less sure about – this could be through chatting, reading and / or attending some training.
  4. Pen a piece for one of our celebration days this coming year. There have been some really thought-provoking pieces over 2021.

Thank you!

All of the above would not be possible without the help and support of many people. I would like to thank Team ORS HQ, and Fliss in particular, for their continued commitment and hard work on EDI. Also, a special thank you to WORAN, which continues to be very active. And, if you have helped the OR EDI ambition in a big or small way, thank you! It really does take us all!

As always, if you’d like to chat about EDI at The OR Society please do get in touch!