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IEMA has today launched a collaborative initiative to support and mentor individuals from diverse backgrounds working in the environmental and sustainability profession.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the Diverse Sustainability Initiative aims to improve diversity through education, connection and transparency, supporting current professionals working in the sector, and increasing appeal and access for potential entrants.

With collaboration from partners including the Green Alliance, Bat Conservation and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), IEMA said that it hopes to build a profession and sector that, over time, is reflective of modern Britain.

This comes after 2017 research by the think tank Policy Exchange found that just 3% of workers in the UK's environment sector are Black, Asian and minority-ethnic people.

IEMA CEO, Sarah Mukherjee, said: “As a British Asian, speaking with diverse people in the sector, I am shocked and saddened by some of the stories I have heard of racial inequality within the environment and sustainability profession.

“We have a commitment to be far more representative of this country, and I urge people to sign up and pledge their commitment to joining us in supporting and encouraging new diverse professionals, wherever they are in their career.”

By signing up to the initiative, organisations are making a public commitment to improve diversity within their industries, be accountable, and make a positive difference to bring about change.

This starts with racial diversity, before expanding into LGBT+, gender and physical ability, with the aim of the initiative likely to take a generation to achieve in its entirety as it requires a shift in mindset to engage a whole new generation of professionals.

“We are pleased to commit to the Diverse Sustainability Initiative” said Beccy Speight, CEO of the RSPB.

“We’re very clear that we need to take concerted action to improve the diversity of the RSPB if we are going to tackle the scale of the nature and climate emergency and deliver our vision of a world where everyone can live in harmony with a world richer in nature.

“Addressing the issue as a sector and holding each other to account on progress makes complete sense as a way to drive the action required.”

A full list of collaborating partners is available here: Partners | Diverse Sustainability

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