The Diverse Sustainability Initiative is a collaborative programme of work that launched in March 2021 with the vision to transform diversity within the sustainability profession and wider environment sector. It is coordinated and managed by several partners and seeks to involve both anyone who works as an environment or sustainability professional, and all professionals regardless of discipline who work within the environment sector.

The overall goal of the Diverse Sustainability Initiative is to build a profession and sector that, over time, is reflective of modern Britain. It will result in a diverse group of people working in and engaging with the environment and sustainability profession and wider NGO movement. This is a long-term goal, which could take a generation to resolve as it is a deep-seated problem with a lot of complexity.

The purpose of the Diverse Sustainability Initiative is to improve diversity through education, connection, and transparency to support current professionals and increase appeal and access for future and potential professionals. This journey starts with breaking down barriers for minority ethnic groups before expanding into other minority or disadvantaged groups.

Become a partner of the Diverse Sustainability Initiative by making your public commitment to diversity or get in touch to discuss how you can contribute resource to the initiative. Perhaps you can contribute further by providing funding for different activity, or by sharing staffing resource to support the coordination of the initiative.

DSI vision

  • An inclusive and representative profession of modern Britain.
  • A network for DSI partners that ensures a safe space for partners to share best practice and barriers.
  • Expanding networks for underrepresented groups to share any barriers.

DSI mission

  1. Providing practical tools and resources for organisations so that they have the knowledge and confidence to drive change within the EDI space.
  2. Communities/networks facilitated through the DSI are used to inform organisations, or to decide which areas organisations need to improve (keeping the work relevant).
  3. Allowing a space for partners to support one another.
  4. The DSI will work as a facilitator of change rather than leader of change as this comes down to individual organisations.

View our strategy document here.

Reality check

Five years ago, a Policy Exchange survey identified the environment and sustainability sector as the second least diverse out of 202 professions in the UK. This is a statistic that is often quoted, but now organisations are more aware than ever, of the dedication that is required to address this.

3.1% of environment professionals identify as minorities compared to 19.9% in all occupations*.

Given a rapidly changing, more urban and more mixed-race population, it is imperative that the environment sector changes and adapts. If it does not, there is a danger that it will become irrelevant, and unworthy of financial or political support, by the communities with which it seeks to work in partnership on a transition to sustainability and zero-carbon.

* Race, inclusivity and environmental sustainability report conducted by NUS, IEMA and The Equality Trust.

Reality check

Our approach

The Diverse Sustainability Initiative’s approach to this work will be to engage minority groups through a process of:

  • Listening and understanding to establish the barriers and challenges present for different groups within society.
  • Innovation and action aiming to break down barriers and eradicate challenges for minority groups.
  • Communication, monitoring and reporting on targets to establish sector-wide action strategies and report on changes.

In it for the long haul

Improving diversity will take a generation to achieve in its entirety, as it requires a shift in mindset and wholesale systems changes to engage a new generation of environment and sustainability professionals. However, our approach aims to ensure consistent, iterative solutions are enacted and progress is made at short- and medium-term milestones.

Taking Action

The Diverse Sustainability Initiative is well-positioned to educate, connect and open the environment sector and community of sustainability professionals.

We can educate existing professionals on how to promote diversity and we can educate the wider sector and public about heritage and intersectionality in the environment. We can educate young people from underrepresented backgrounds about the exciting opportunities within the sector and why jobs in environment and sustainability might be their perfect career choice.

Taking action graphic

We can connect current Professionals of Colour to provide a strong, active network and we can connect people from minority ethnic groups who are entering the sector with experienced professionals to provide support. We can interrogate our systems, set transparent targets, and convene accountability groups to ensure that the profession is open and accessible to all.

Taking action graphic

Make the commitment

Become a partner of the Diverse Sustainability Initiative and make your public commitment to improving diversity.

Make the commitment