Published on 25 October 2017 in The Ethics Institute's monthly newsletter.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to complete our membership survey, which was conducted during September 2017. We want to share the high-level findings thereof, as well as our proposed responses.
People feel a strong personal affiliation with TEI
While we were not surprised that 76% of respondents work directly in or closely to the ethics function at work, we were gratified to learn that the most popular reason why respondents choose to be members is “it appeals to me on a personal level to be associated with TEI’s vision”. The second most popular reason is “because I want to pursue continuous learning in this field”.
Communications are what people value most
The benefit which most members have made use of in the past is the monthly newsletter (77%), followed by the weekly bulletin Business Ethics Direct (68%), followed by access to resources on the website (49%). The unique certificate has been made use of least (24%). Of our three communications, the Ethics Brief presentation is valued least.
People want more opportunities to learn and engage
33% of respondents feel that TEI should offer master classes on focus topics to make their membership more worthwhile; 19% asked for formal mentoring opportunities and 18% want to see TEI playing more of an advocacy role in the public arena.
People are very loyal – but cost and TEI’s reputation are key
Were respondents to ever discontinue their membership, their main reason would be:
- Nothing would make me cancel – 38%
- If the cost of membership became unaffordable – 23%
- If TEI’s behaviour or reputation was in question – 19%
PROPOSED STRATEGIC RESPONSES:
We wish to, in the near future, discontinue referring to “membership", so as to more accurately reflect the nature of the relationship. TEI is incorporated as a non-profit organisation without members under the Companies Act of 2008. Thus, membership with us is a subscription membership, rather than membership with voting rights. The potential for confusion arises as external observers do not appreciate the distinction, and infer that membership carries our implied ethical stamp of approval. This is a reputational risk – something we cannot allow if we are to sustain the trust of our stakeholders. Furthermore, we are considering:
- Focusing on individuals who will be invited to become supporters, with largely the same associated benefits as current individual membership, and organisations who fund several supporters will be charged reduced group rates;
- Inviting organisations to become sponsors for a substantially larger financial commitment than the current membership fees, along with greater benefits;
- Redoubling our efforts to make the weekly bulletin and monthly newsletter worthwhile, including introducing a “Supporters’ Corner” feature in our newsletter to which supporters are invited to contribute;
- Offering master classes on focus topics;
- Discontinuing issuing membership certificates;
- Discontinuing the quarterly Ethics Brief – though the full archive will always be available; and
- Moving towards once-a-year renewal, in order to streamline internal administration and therefore improve service levels.
We have not taken any firm decisions yet, preferring to open the discussion for feedback and comment before proceeding.