IEMA talk diversity and green skills at Net Zero Festival 2023

31st October 2023

IEMA CEO, Sarah Mukherjee MBE, and director of policy and public affairs, Ben Goodwin, spoke to packed audiences at BusinessGreen’s Net Zero Festival 2023 today.

The two-day festival brings thousands of senior business executives, investors, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and campaigners together in Central London to explore how best to navigate the net-zero transition.

Mukherjee was joined by the writer and broadcaster, Lucy Siegle, and founder of the Women In Sustainability Network, Rhian Sherrington, for a session on ‘the role of business in fostering diversity and inclusion in sustainability teams’.

She warned that much of the progress made on net zero could be lost if we fail to engage people from diverse backgrounds, explaining: “I think we have a fundamental problem, because we are very good at talking to each other, without talking to disengaged communities.

“This fragile consensus we have could be gone within an election if enough people think ‘this is a load of rubbish and just a load a posh white people talking to each other and making me poorer’. Reframing it around jobs is absolutely crucial.”

Mukherjee (L), Sherrington (C), Siegle (R)

Mukherjee also highlighted the need for companies to be sensitive to people’s different cultural experiences, and ensure that all staff feel their voices are heard.

“Allyship is incredibly important,” she explained. “If you sit in a meeting and you are not aware of where the power is flowing, it is often flowing around to the same old people all the time.

“It’s about looking at body language, and making sure everyone in the room has been given the chance and agency to speak.”

The conversation then turned to neurodiversity, with Mukherjee revealing that IEMA plans to launch a new group to support people next year.

“We often say ‘go and network, go into a big room with lots of people shouting at each other, with lots of loud music’, but if you are neurodiverse, that can be horrible. We can help people through their careers in a way that is supportive,” she continued.

“We are going to set up a group next year hopefully under the Diverse Sustainability Initiative for people in the environment sector who are neurodiverse, because it is a completely different set of challenges – but that diversity is gold dust for an organisation.”

This comes after IEMA’s director of policy and public affairs, Ben Goodwin, held a workshop on ‘bridging the net-zero skills gap’ earlier in the day.

Goodwin talks ‘bridging the net-zero skills gap'

He took questions from sustainability professionals working across a range of sectors, including energy, food and transport, many of which expressed their concerns around a lack of green skills.

To help allay these fears, Goodwin explained how IEMA has recently launched its Green Careers Hub, providing businesses and individuals with all the information they need on green skills and potential career pathways.

He continued: “We also worked with Deloitte last year and published a blueprint for a green workforce transformation, that sets out how larger-scale organisations can embed sustainability right across their organisation, whether that be procurement, legal, etc.”

Goodwin also listened to feedback from attendees on the various barriers to developing green skills, explained how the government should provide “long-term certainty” for businesses to invest in staff, and highlighted IEMA’s campaign to include a commitment to green skills on the final cover text of the COP28 negotiations.

BusinessGreen’s Net Zero Festival 2023 continues tomorrow. Learn more here: Net Zero Festival 2023 Homepage


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Renewables account for almost half of Britain’s power generation

Solar power generation hit a new high in the last quarter as renewables accounted for almost half of Britain’s energy production, according to a report from Montel Analytics.

18th July 2024

Read more

Only a third of the emission reductions required for the UK to achieve net zero by 2030 are covered by credible plans, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has warned today.

18th July 2024

Read more

Almost three-fifths of UK environmental professionals feel there is a green skills gap across the country’s workforce, or that there will be, a new survey has uncovered.

4th July 2024

Read more

Climate hazards such as flooding, droughts and extreme heat are threatening eight in 10 of the world’s cities, new research from CDP has uncovered.

3rd July 2024

Read more

Three in five British adults want more public involvement in the planning system, which could be at odds with Labour’s plans to boost economic growth, IEMA research has found.

3rd July 2024

Read more

Ahead of the UK general election next month, IEMA has analysed the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Green Party manifestos in relation to the sustainability agenda.

19th June 2024

Read more

Nine in 10 UK adults do not fully trust brands to accurately portray their climate commitments or follow the science all the time, a new survey has uncovered.

19th June 2024

Read more

Just one in 20 workers aged 27 and under have the skills needed to help drive the net-zero transition, compared with one in eight of the workforce as a whole, new LinkedIn data suggests.

18th June 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close