IEMA's Digital Journalist Tom Pashby discusses the latest data on the diversity of the environmental profession and the new initiative seeking to shine a light on the lack of racial diversity - the Racial Action for the Climate Emergency Report, which IEMA are a partner of.

Data released on Tuesday 5 April from Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS-UK), sponsored by IEMA (the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), has revealed that just 4.8 per cent of environment professionals identify as Black, Asian or minority ethnic, compared with a 12.6 per cent average across all professions.

The data has led to the creation of a new initiative, called the RACE (Racial Action for the Climate Emergency) Report, which is being funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, which will seek to shine a light on the lack of racial diversity in the environment and sustainability profession, and try to improve the representation of wider society. IEMA is one of 17 organisations that has committed to participating in the first RACE Report.

Work to highlight and address issues with diversity in the environment and sustainability is not new, but this initiative will be run annually and will use comparable data from the sector to provide year-on-year reporting, which will keep the pressure up on employers to ensure a higher level of racial equity and representation within the workforce. IEMA’s Diverse Sustainability Initiative will continue to work closely with all of those in the profession who are keen to address racial and other axes of inequity.

The first annual report due for publication in late 2022 will anonymise individual organisations, giving participants time to learn from one another, introduce policies and take action to improve. From 2023 onwards, the data collection will be repeated, and findings published annually, this time including the names of organisations, with the aim of increasing transparency across the sector. There will also be a league table for the largest employers in the sector.

In the next annual cycle of the RACE Report, an anonymised staff survey will be introduced to collect data on the lived experiences of staff members related to various workplace concerns. An aggregated report of this data will be published as a supplement to the RACE Report, and individual organisations will be able to request their summary data.

Caris Graham (Diverse Sustainability Initiative Officer) from IEMA sits on the advisory board, supporting the development of this report, she encourages any environment/ sustainability organisations to join IEMA and the other partners in supporting this important data collection.


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