Report: UK’s environmental charity sector lagging behind on diversity and inclusion

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That is the headline finding of the first annual report from The RACE Report, published today (13 December). This report includes data on the race and ethnicity of employees at 91 environmental charities in the UK. Collectively, these organisations employ almost 8,000 people.

The RACE Report initiative was launched earlier this year in a bid to help improve transparency around how diverse workforces and boards of trustees are at charities. It is modelled after the US’s Green 2.0 scheme, which is normalising the annual reporting of racial diversity statistics in the field.

As noted above, this first annual report has proven that the environmental charity sector’s workforce is not as diverse in terms of race and ethnicity as the broader UK workforce. As in most sectors, representation was found to be poor at the managerial level, with just 5% of managerial roles worked by people of colour.

The report also raises concerns that people of colour are potentially being overlooked for permanent roles with meaningful career progression. Currently, people of colour have greater representation in non-permanent roles (10%) than permanent (7%).

The report did reveal, however, progress on ensuring diversity on boards of trustees. 62 organisations disclosed race and ethnicity information about their boards of trustees and governance boards, revealing that 11% of positions on these boards are held by those from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Additionally, of the 93 organisations contributing to the RACE Report 2022, the vast majority (82%) either have included or are in the process of including statements promoting race equity and inclusion within all new recruitment materials. The report also paints a picture of a sector looking to change processes and culture for existing staff. Three-quarters of the organisations have either reviewed or are currently reviewing imagery and language used in marketing and online to improve inclusivity. Two-thirds have introduced or are introducing compulsory staff training on race equality, diversity and inclusion.

“We’re still a long way from making our sector truly representative, but we have something we were desperately lacking before – comparative data and evidence,” said the RACE Report team member Manu Maunganidze.

“With this, organisations can hold themselves accountable against their stated aims, identify areas of underperformance, and make the necessary strides to improve diversity as part of a coordinated effort.

“But while this is the largest study of its kind, we should remember that today’s report is informed only by organisations that volunteered their data. It’s probable that our sector is less diverse than today’s data suggests. Participation from an even greater number of organisations within the sector will give us more precise insights and shape best practice.”

Recommended actions

As already mentioned, the RACE Report initiative is calling on charities to produce statements promoting equality and inclusion in recruitment; to review their imagery and language and to offer staff training on diversity, equality and inclusion if they have not already done so.

The report also floats the idea of offering paid placements of internships specifically for people of colour, to help young people and those looking for a career change into the sector. It notes that many charities offer placements or internships on an unpaid basis, making these roles inaccessible to those without the financial means to work for free for a period.

Additionally recommended are steps to ensure that mentorship campaigns are inclusive and accessible.

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