Towards an equitable future

28th March 2024

DSI webinar explores Inclusion Survey results. Caris Graham reports

In February, the Diverse Sustainability Initiative (DSI) hosted a webinar for its partners and network members. Its focus was the Inclusion Survey distributed among members of the People of Colour (PoC) and LGBTQIA+ networks. The survey aimed to provide a platform for network members to express their opinions anonymously, ensuring open dialogue. While the survey yielded a small set of statistics, it underscored the significance of inclusion within the profession. Valuable feedback and suggestions emerged, essential for those committed to fostering a more inclusive and diverse space.

The webinar began by revisiting statistics from the 2022 IEMA State of the Profession Survey, highlighting key findings. From the 1,000+ IEMA members surveyed then, 54% of ethnic minority members faced numerous career development barriers, compared with 32% of their white counterparts. Noteworthy was the observation that only 44% of self-identified postgraduate students described themselves as white, indicating an increase in those from diverse backgrounds studying environmental/sustainability-related courses.

This was followed by commentary on data extracted from The RACE Report (Racial Action for the Climate Emergency) in 2022. The report had gathered insights from 142 organisations in the environment, sustainability and conservation sector, aiming to foster diversity and inclusion through transparent data. One notable statistic was that 66% of surveyed staff of Colour emphasised the importance of seeing role models from similar ethnic/racial backgrounds, contrasting with 23% of white respondents. This highlights the significance of diversity within organisations and justifies the DSI’s ongoing efforts to drive change and foster a diverse and inclusive profession.

The qualitative approach of the Inclusion Survey, which garnered responses from 28 network members, indicated an average rating of 3.21 out of 5 for inclusion within their work environments. While the sample size was limited, some responses rated workplace inclusion as low as 1 or 2 out of 5. Just over half of respondents (53%) felt that they were treated fairly without discrimination based on their ethnicity.

The poll also showed that organisations should encourage open conversations about race and ongoing global challenges. People of Colour want to see dedicated forums where they can engage in such discussions freely and address the issue of underrepresentation, to allow career advancement opportunities, particularly within leadership roles. The RACE Report stressed the stark reality of leadership demographics, with a mere 5% of senior leaders across 124 organisations identifying as People of Colour.

When asked for suggestions to enhance racial or ethnic diversity and inclusion, network members offered the following:

  • ‘Publicly recognise racially driven conflicts that they know have an effect on their workforce; be more morally correct and less protective of public image.’
  • ‘Have regular spaces to talk about issues related to race, so that it becomes a normalised part of work culture, rather than having separate slots allocated to talk about it every so often.’
  • ‘Advertise posts without stringent educational requirements that may put people off applying. Value lived experience during recruitment rounds.’

The LGBTQIA+ Inclusion Survey results presented a nuanced perspective. As a new network, it attracted fewer participants (16), yet the average inclusion rating stood at 4.13/5. Notably, only 50% felt comfortable being ’out’ at work, suggesting that perceived inclusivity stems from individuals not expressing their ‘full self’ in the workplace.

Despite the limited response, valuable insights emerged, proposing actionable changes organisations can make to foster a sense of value and safety for LGBTQIA+ individuals within their workplace, including:

  • ‘Add pronouns to email signatures.’
  • ‘Review parental leave policies to recognise same-sex couples.’
  • ‘Ensure line managers are trained to suitably support LGBTQIA+ staff.’
Making sure feedback from network members is heard and acted upon is paramount for the DSI.

IEMA is committed to sharing this feedback and fostering a culture in which organisational leaders embrace and implement necessary action. If you’re part of an organisation that is ready to drive meaningful change, consider joining the DSI. It’s free to join, and we offer dedicated support on your journey towards equality, diversity and inclusion.

For further information, contact [email protected]. If you identify as LGBTQIA+ or as a Person of Colour, we invite you to sign up to our networks.

Caris Graham (she/her) is Diverse Sustainability Initiative officer at IEMA

Image credit: Shutterstock


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