Ashden's mission is to accelerate transformative climate solutions and build a more just world. Our awards, events, networks and analysis support climate innovation in the UK and developing countries around the world.
Agreed that as an organisation we will the Applied platform for all recruitment, increased the diversity of our judging panels and carried out our first DEI survey which we will use to benchmark our progress.
2021 Awards Cycle - Ashden’s Green Communities Award- taking an inclusive approach
The environmental and sustainability sector is the second least diverse sector in the UK economy, and this is something that Ashden wants to change. The Green Communities Award is a new UK focused award for Ashden. We wanted to specifically reach out to organisations who are engaging diverse audiences on climate change. If we are going to achieve a just transition for people, then we need to engage more diverse communities and perspectives to inform a diverse range of solutions.
To help shape the award process we engaged with external voices and actors who represent diverse communities. We wanted to make sure that we weren’t creating barriers to participation and that the awards process would be of value to those involved, so that even the winners benefited from the process. Promoting inclusion is something new for Ashden so we want to learn from organisations who are often excluded in the environmental sector.
What did we do?
We invested time in finding and reaching out to organisations working with diverse groups, using our network of past award winners and harnessing the power of Twitter and LinkedIn to identify organisations and their followers. We invited 26 community organisations to participate in the design of the award process. We reviewed our understanding of ‘diverse groups’, and allowed organisations trusted in underrepresented communities to shape the application process, award criteria and what benefits the process could offer. We decided to offer applicants the option to apply either in writing or an alternative form such as video or podcast after community voice from underrepresented groups suggested that more traditional written application forms tend to favour predominantly white organisations with greater capacities. We also reduced the number of award-specific questions applicants needed to answer by 50% to encourage more organisations to apply.
What was the outcome?
10% of applications received for the award were video and/or audio-based and we found that this medium gave an easier and more tangible way to learn about the applicant and their work. We found that breaking down barriers to applying improved the quality of the applicant field. Of the 6 video/audio based applications we received, 5 reached the longlisting stage, Many of the organisations submitting a video application said they wouldn’t have applied otherwise; this importantly included a neurodiverse applicant. Going forward we will allow applicants to apply in non-written form across all of the UK awards for 2022 and are investigating suitable ways of doing this for our international awards too.
We set up the Green Communities Learning Network and have run two webinars which have been deeply engaging and well-attended. Our first event focussed on how climate action community groups could better engage diverse audiences, giving us the opportunity to platform some of the underrepresented climate voices we came across during the Award research and allowing for their methods and best practice to be adopted further afield.