UK’s environment sector struggling to improve racial diversity, survey finds

This is according to the campaign‘s second annual report, which analyses data collected from 142 organisations, encompassing 12,900 employees across the UK.

According to the findings, there has been a 56% surge in organisational participation regarding data transparency, along with a 63% increase in the number of employees included, compared to the initial report in 2022.

Moreover, this year’s report saw increased participation from larger organisations, with those employing 50 – 249 individuals accounting for 26% of those submitting data, up from 16% in 2022.

The first report, unveiled in December 2022, involved 91 organisations, which accounted for 7,900 employees submitting data on their workforce’s racial diversity.

Despite the increased engagement, the overall findings remained relatively consistent with the previous year.

The report reveals that only 6% of employees identify as people of colour or other racially or ethnically minoritised groups, a figure which has seen little movement year on year. This is lower than the UK workforce average of 15%.

The report emphasises the urgent need for action to address this lack of representation and ensure the environment sector reflects the diversity of the modern British workforce.

The RACE Report’s team member Manu Maunganidze said: “It’s encouraging to see how much the sector’s engagement with racial diversity has grown in just one year.

“Each organisation that has come forward to contribute to this report has done a brilliant thing in voluntarily submitting their data. We now need to make sure that this engagement translates into more meaningful progress.

“It’s only through having these difficult conversations, learning from each other, and implementing inclusive practices that we’ll ensure next year’s report tells a story of both an appetite for change and tangible improvement.”

Signs of progress

The report also highlights some promising signs of progress, with a higher proportion of participating organisations having implemented inclusion-boosting initiatives compared to the previous year:

The findings reveal that 11% of organisations have either published or were in the process of publishing data on their race equity pay gap, up from 5% in 2022.

Additionally, 63% of organisations reported the full implementation of a senior leader with official responsibility for equality, diversity and inclusion, compared to 44% in 2022.

The proportion of organisations incorporating regular evaluations of equality, diversity and inclusion activities to ensure their effectiveness has also increased, with 85% either partially or fully implementing this practice, up from 80% in 2022.

Diverse perspectives on progress: Survey findings

In addition to quantitative data, the report also includes insights from a Staff Perceptions Survey conducted across 43 organisations, involving 1,552 respondents.

While 95% of survey participants reported enjoying working at their organisations, there were notable disparities in perceptions between white employees and those identifying as people of colour:

White respondents were more likely to agree that their organisation actively identifies and opposes racism through its policies.

White respondents were also more likely to believe there are equal opportunities for success compared to their peers, while people of colour reported needing to adapt more to fit into the organisational culture.

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

Qualitative responses further highlighted issues of being overlooked and feeling isolated among people of colour, while white respondents attributed the lack of diversity in their organisations to recruitment process challenges such as unconscious bias.

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