The number of UK environmental charities reporting on the racial diversity of their workforce grew by more than half last year, according to figures released yesterday.
The RACE Report – which aims to boost transparency on racial diversity, and works closely with IEMA – revealed that 142 environmental charities, trusts and foundations submitted data on the ethnic composition of their staff in 2023.
This represents a 56% increase on the 91 organisations that did so for the inaugural report in 2022, and a 63% rise in the number of employees represented.
However, the findings show that just 6% of staff identified as people of colour and other racially or ethnically minoritised groups, down from 7% the previous year, and less than half of the 15% across the entire UK workforce.
Although the researchers said that the decrease is of “low statistical significance” given the larger sample size, they insisted that “rapid action” is needed from environmental charities to reflect the diversity of modern British workers.
“It's encouraging to see how much the sector’s engagement with racial diversity has grown in just one year,” said Manu Maunganidze, from The RACE Report team.
“The more data we have at our disposal, the better equipped we are to shape best practice and ensure we are amplifying underrepresented voices in the fight for social and environmental justice.
“We now need to make sure that this engagement translates into more meaningful progress. That means reflecting on what the data tells us, but also really listening to the lived experiences of the individuals who power our sector.”
Despite the lack of diversity within environmental charities, the latest findings show that 11% had published or were in the process of publishing data on their race equity pay gap last year, up from 5% in 2022.
Furthermore, 63% of organisations had given a senior leader official responsibility for equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), up from 44%, while 85% had partially or fully implemented a regular review of EDI activities to ensure they remain effective and impactful, up from 80%.
This year’s report also includes findings from a Staff Perceptions Survey, which aims to contextualise diversity data within the lived experiences of employees.
Of the 1,552 respondents, 68% of white employees agreed that their organisation actively identifies and opposes racism through its policies, compared with 56% of colleagues which are people of colour and other racially or ethnically minoritised groups.
White workers were also more likely to agree that there are as many opportunities for them to succeed in their organisation as there are for their peers (66% vs 51%), and that they felt they belonged in their organisation (84% vs 74%).
The RACE Report builds on progress being made by IEMA’s Diverse Sustainability Initiative (DSI), which seeks to diversify the environment and sustainability profession by offering support to both existing and potential workers through education, connection, and transparency.
IEMA also has representation on The RACE Report’s advisory group, and has established partnerships with several key organisations across the industry.
Speaking at the DSI’s launch in March 2021, CEO Sarah Mukherjee MBE, said: “As a British Asian, I know how important it is to address systematic inequality and the real need to reflect the diversity of this country.
“We must continue to gather data and offer our support and encouragement to people who wish to join our sector but feel they don’t belong. You do belong, and we are here to support you.”
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