Environmental charities make progress on EDI but more action still needed, says report 

05 Feb 2024 News

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Environmental charities have made some progress on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) but still need to do more to improve the racial and ethnic diversity of their workforce, according to new research.

The second instalment of the RACE Report, published today by the RACE Report Campaign, finds that 6% of employees working in these charities identify as people of colour (POC) and other racially or ethnically minoritised groups.

The RACE Report Campaign said: “Rapid action is therefore needed to ensure the sector addresses this lack of representation and reflects the diversity of the modern British workforce.

“However, the report suggests that a higher proportion of participating organisations have either fully or partially implemented inclusion-boosting initiatives over the past year compared with 2022’s data.”

The first RACE Report was released in December 2022 and aims to drive racial and ethnic diversity in environmental charities and funders through data transparency. 

This year’s findings are based on responses from 142 organisations which represent a workforce of 12,900. 

Increases in inclusion-boosting initiatives 

The second report finds that 6% of staff working in environmental charities identify as POC, compared with 7% in 2022 and a UK average of 15%.

It shows that 11% of organisations have released data on their race equity pay gap (the same proportion as the largest 250 charities in the UK) in the last 18 months, compared with 5% in 2022.

Just over six in 10 organisations appointed a senior leader with official responsibility for EDI, an increase from the 44% reported in 2022. 

Meanwhile, 85% of respondents said they had either partially or fully implemented a “regular review of EDI activities to ensure they remain effective and impactful” (2022: 80%).  

Staff perceptions survey

This year’s report also includes a staff perceptions survey which collected 1,552 responses from staff across 43 organisations.

The survey reveals that while the majority of POC employees felt that they belonged in their organisations, 41% had to adapt to fit in with their work culture, compared to 24% of white identities. 

Just over half of POC respondents reported having “as many opportunities for me to succeed in this organisation as there are for my peers” (white identities: 66%) 

Similarly, 56% said their organisations actively identify and oppose racism through their policies. At 68%, white identities were more likely to agree with this statement.

A respondent said: “Two years ago, I faced a lot of racism. Especially from previous leadership. Things have significantly improved since the changes (last 12 months).

“However, I still experience microaggressions from colleagues. Mainly when people want their way they say things like ‘but this is how we do things in the climate sector’ and ‘in this country’ and ‘this isn’t in line with our values’. And these microaggressions are mostly said to POCs.”

Another commented: “As a white person, there are role models for my ethnic/racial background everywhere. I would like to see more role models for my peers of colour and more LGBTQIA+ role models.”

Some of the findings are ‘encouraging’

Manu Maunganidze from the RACE Report team said: “It's encouraging to see how much the sector’s engagement with racial diversity has grown in just one year.

“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.

“Each organisation who has come forward to contribute to this report has done a brilliant thing in voluntarily submitting their data. 

“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. 

“It’s only through having these difficult conversations, learning from each other, and implementing inclusive practices that we’ll ensure next year’s report tells a story of both an appetite for change and tangible improvement.”

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