Interview: Tricia Dodd, RSS Honorary Officer for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Having taken over as Honorary Officer for EDI last year, Tricia Dodd has been integral in the discussions around how we embed equity, diversity and inclusion in the new RSS Strategy and make the Society and the data professions more representative. Here, we discuss the importance of diversity and the work of the EDI Advisory Group.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and why you took on the role Honorary Officer for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion? 

Tricia Dodd: I spent most of my career in the Civil Service. When I joined, straight from University, I was very fortunate to have some very strong female role models, but I was quite shocked to learn how relatively recently some gender equality laws had been introduced. I was also very aware of the discrimination that continued—I can think of so many instances of casual sexism, racism and homophobia from people who I think would be horrified to consider themselves prejudiced. It was against this backroad that I became more involved in EDI issues and eventually became the Senior Diversity Office in my department. I’m therefore very pleased to get the opportunity to continue this work at the RSS.

Why is promoting EDI important for the RSS and for the data professions as a whole? 

TD: Promoting EDI and embedding it in the work of the RSS and the professions is really important in two ways. First, it is important to individuals: we want all our members to feel valued and included, and to promote a culture where everyone feels able to contribute to the fullest extent. Just as important, however, is harnessing the diversity of our membership to look at issues in different ways and to make the profession stronger and more relevant.

What work are you currently involved in to support and promote EDI across the RSS, and are there any future projects we can look forward to? 

TD: Our main focus at the moment is to contribute to the success of the new RSS strategy by ensuring that EDI principles are embedded in the work that flows from that. It is very encouraging that Sarah Cumbers has been so supportive of our work and attends all our meetings. This ensures that EDI issues are considered at the highest level of the Society. One important project that we are involved in is trying to understand more about the background of our members. We’ve asked members to supply this information on a voluntary basis, but the response has been quite low. It’s difficult to move forward successfully without this information about the composition of our membership, so I encourage everyone to complete this short questionnaire.

How can members of the RSS and the public contribute to or support your work and that of the EDI Advisory Group? 

TD: We are always interested to hear comments and ideas from RSS members. Please do send them in to  I’d also like to hear from anyone who would like to be more involved in our work.

What message would you like to send to current and future statisticians regarding the importance of EDI in their professional lives? 

TD: I’d like to underline the message that diversity is something to be celebrated and encouraged. As I’ve alluded to earlier, the experience of people from all different backgrounds enriches our environment and leads to new ways of looking at the world that we might not have considered before.

Finally, can you share a particular moment or experience that highlighted the importance of EDI for you? 

TD: It wasn’t a moment—it was a set of moments! In a previous organisation, we arranged a series of talks for the staff where senior staff from different backgrounds spoke about the challenges they had faced, how they had overcome them and what lessons they had learned. These were very powerful, and it was exciting to see people coming out of these talks encouraged and energised. This  goes back to something I said at the start of this interview about how important role models were to me. It’s important to remember that we are all potentially role models and to promote EDI principles throughout the work we do.

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