The Diverse Sustainability Initiative is a new 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 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.
Three 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 until now has been seldom acted upon.
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.
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.
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 of Colour about the exciting opportunities within the sector and why jobs in environment and sustainability might be their perfect career choice.
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.
We have created a 2021 Action Plan that outlines exactly how we plan to educate and connect current and future professionals and open up targets and plans to ensure accountability.