Dozens of employers collaborate to boost diversity in environmental professions

A higher percentage of people of colour reported witnessing or experiencing racist harassment or bullying among colleagues compared to white respondents.

The initiative is spearheaded by the community charity Groundwork and also has support from the likes of WWF-UK, Wildlife and Countryside Link, RSPB, The Woodland Trust, CPRE and The Bat Conservation Trust.

The campaign’s primary objectives encompass a commitment to fostering inclusivity and diversity within these organisations. This involves the development of action plans to drive inclusivity, proactive recruitment practices to address existing imbalances and the creation of entry-level positions with clear paths for career advancement.

The campaign also aims to addresses the issue of exclusion experienced by disabled individuals in the sector, with 57% of disabled people reporting a sense of exclusion.

The campaign’s foundation lies in the success of the ‘New to Nature’ programme, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The programme has successfully employed 96 individuals from underrepresented groups, including young people, those from minority ethnic or low-income backgrounds, and people with disabilities, in various environmental organisations.

Groundwork’s UK chief executive Graham Duxbury said: “The diversity challenge for the environmental sector is well documented and being addressed through a range of complementary initiatives.

“Making sure our recruitment and development practices are inclusive and accessible is an important piece of the jigsaw. As a movement in the midst of a climate and nature crisis we need to be as effective as possible at engaging all sections of society in our work.”

Environmental sector lacks ethnic diversity

According to The Race Report, only 7% of individuals within environmental charities currently come from ethnically diverse backgrounds, significantly below the all-profession average of 14%.

When looking at the environmental sector as a whole, only 4.8% of employees in working in the sector come from an ethnically diverse background, compared to the all-profession average of 12.6%.

This is based on research from the Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS-UK), the Natural Environment Research Council and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).

‘Force of Nature’ is poised to boost endeavours aimed at rectifying these disparities by offering resources and guidance to enhance recruitment practices.

This initiative seeks to create entry points for a more diverse pool of talent, fostering employment opportunities for countless young individuals across the UK.

The Youth Environmental Service programme director Billy Knowles said: “For too long there have been too few opportunities for too few people to build a career in our sector.

“If we’re going to avert the worst harms of environmental and biodiversity breakdown, we need a new generation of confident, capable, and connected environmentalists that reflects our fantastically diverse society.”

Last year, the SOS-UK, Nature Youth Connection and Education, South Asians for Sustainability and Hindu Climate Action launched an initiative to help organisations in the environment and sustainability space address the lack of diversity in their workforce.

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