IEMA’s Diverse Sustainability Initiative is a collaborative programme of work with the vision to transform diversity, within the sustainability profession and wider environment sector. It is coordinated and managed by several partners and welcomes anyone who works as an environment or sustainability professional, or in any professional discipline, within the sustainability profession and wider environment sector. Here, Caris Graham, IEMA’s Diverse Sustainability Initiative Support, discusses what the initiative has been up to since its launch 6 months ago.

I recently started as the full-time Diverse Sustainability Initiative Support at IEMA and am really pleased to see how far the initiative has come in such a short space of time. What’s particularly great is that colleagues, both at IEMA and DSI partner organisations, have been really supportive and open to hearing how I want to shape my role and the wider initiative.

The purpose of DSI is to improve the diversity of the the sustainability profession and wider environment sector. A 2017 report from NUS, IEMA and the Equality Trust found it to be the second least diverse out of 202 professions in the UK. It also found that 3.1 per cent of environment professionals identify as minorities compared to 19.9 per cent in all occupations.

Clearly recruitment of people from diverse backgrounds is a massive challenge for our whole community to come together to address. There is already a clear commitment from the sector to do just that, with the DSI having already hosted two meetings with CEOs from DSI partner organisations, where we discussed how their respective organisations can be at the leading edge of improving diversity in sustainability.

Only a few months ago, the DSI had just 14 partner organisations. Today, we stand at an incredible 51 partners, covering the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. If you would like your organisation to become a partner, please do get in contact by emailing me. We want to make sure we are speaking to as broad a spectrum of the wider community as possible.

As part of our effort to include the IEMA community in the DSI, IEMA’s CEO Sarah Mukherjee started a POC (People of Colour) Professionals Network. Our first meeting, which I am convening, is set for Tuesday 12 October 2021. I would absolutely encourage you to attend if you are an environment or sustainability professional and a Person of Colour, and let your colleagues know if you think they may be interested. You can sign up to the network here, and we will send out email invitations in due course.

In terms of next steps, we will be talking a lot about Black environmentalists during Black History Month in October, and you will see more about this on DSI’s Twitter and Instagram. With racial justice as our first focus, we will be moving soon to incorporate other marginalised communities into our work, such as LGBTQIA+ people.

Please do follow DSI on social media, share our content, and tell your colleagues about us so we can improve the diversity of our professional sector and help to accelerate the transition to a net zero economy.

Photo of Caris 1
Caris Graham

Diverse Sustainability Initiative Officer

Caris is our Diverse Sustainability Initiative Assistant. She liases with our DSI partners and is always looking for new ways to create a more diverse and inclusive sector. She has qualifications in psychology and criminology. Caris’s experience is diverse, having worked in court, probation (becoming their diversity lead) and continuing her passion for EDI work by consulting in this, involving, assessing job adverts, policies and providing her own training programme in creating a culturally inclusive workforce.


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