Environmental charities half as racially diverse as wider economy, report says

13 Dec 2022 News

Fewer than one in 10 people working for environmental charities in the UK are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, a new report has shown.

According to data released today by the RACE Report campaign, 7% of those working in the environmental charity sector identify as BAME, compared with a 14% national average across all people in employment and 9.5% of the civil society workforce.

At governance and board level, the report showed that 64% members across 62 organisations are white. 

Research began in April and it received a total of 94 responses from charities including the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Groundwork and WWF. 

Lack of racial and ethnic diversity

Of the 94 respondents that submitted data, 91 provided figures on race and ethnicity on the 7,948 staff they employ. 

The report found that 7% of employees working at these organisations identify as people of colour or other racially or ethnically minoritised identities. 

Some 57 organisations reported that most of their senior leaders (76%) are from a white ethnic background. 

Governance and trustee boards in environmental charities appear to be more racially and ethnically diverse than those in the wider charity sector, with 11% of members being of colour compared with 8%.

Looking at career opportunities at 28 organisations in 2021, only 10% of staff who were promoted to a better-paid and/or more senior role were people of colour. 

All respondents were then asked about the measures they have been implementing to boost diversity. 

Eight in 10 said they either fully implemented or are in the process of implementing a race equity, diversity and inclusion strategy, or similar. 

However, only 4% have published a race equity pay gap in the past 18 months. The publication of this type of data is only possible where organisations employ people of colour, meaning that the lack thereof likely shows a lack of diversity.

Sector ‘a long way’ from being representative

Manu Maunganidze from the RACE Report team said: “We cannot underestimate the importance of having people of colour as spokespeople. This representation sends a clear message: everyone must have their voice heard. The fight for social and environmental justice affects all of us, and we’re going to need the full depth and breadth of our society’s talent to win it. 

“We’re still a long way from making our sector truly representative. But we have something we were desperately lacking before: comparative data and evidence.

“With this, organisations can hold themselves accountable against their stated aims, identify areas of underperformance, and make the necessary strides to improve diversity as part of a coordinated effort. But while this is the largest study of its kind, we should remember that today’s report is informed only by organisations that volunteered their data. It’s probable that our sector is less diverse than today’s data suggests. Participation from an even greater number of organisations within the sector will give us more precise insights and shape best practice.”

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