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Route map towards greater ethnic diversity

Creating conditions for minority ethnic people to join and thrive in the environment sector

The environment sector is one of the least ethnically diverse in the UK. Just 6% of environment professionals identify as people from an ethnic minority background, compared to 14% across all UK professions.

Some organisations are progressing on their journey to address this lack of ethnic diversity. But many organisations, while willing to take action, lack direction. This is particularly the case among those organisations that are smaller and have fewer resources. 

This is why Link commissioned Full Colour to work with colleagues in the sector to consider the issues in the sector and develop a route map for change. While the route map will not solve all the issues around lack of ethnic diversity or the presence of racism in the sector, profound change is possible by working together. The route map and accompanying guidance manual below set out how and act as a resource for individual organisational change.

Benchmarking the sector's ethnic diversity journey

In October 2023 Link published benchmarking research on the progress of the sector on action to improve ethnic diversity. Although there is still clearly a huge way to go to improve ethnic diversity in the sector, there are some very positive take-aways:

- The action vs aspiration gap is closing:
 with 53% of organisations developing or having an action plan, up from 15% in 2021

- Funding for change is increasing: 40% of organisations having dedicated or ad hoc budget compared to a reported 25% 2021

- Recruitment and reporting are the areas of greatest reform: more than half  of eNGOs have made policy, training and practical changes around recruitment, 50% are regularly reporting internally, and 70% expect to take part in sectoral reporting in The RACE Report 2023 

But there remain big hurdles to overcome:

- Organisations are still struggling with resources and capacity:
smaller organisations are most affected by capacity gaps and much more likely to have no action plan, no budget and no staffing resource

Measures on anti-racism and equity and empowerment have been slower to appear:  Only 16.7% have a clear anti-racism policy and only 1 in 8 are delivering specific development for people of colour to equip them to take up more senior and leadership roles.

- There is more to do on leaders acting as agents of change
: More than three quarters of organisations do not have a leader-led vision for increasing ethnic diversity

New for 2024

In addition to working with the RAVEN peer support network, and our EDI group's work on joint training and funding opportunities, in 2024 we will be focusing on the following:

The SEEDS (Small eNGO Ethnic Diversity Support) scheme

As smaller organisations are most likely to be struggling with capacity and resource for change and are more frequently on the starting blocks on action, Link will be delivering a targeted support scheme for smaller organisations in 2024.

This will include 1-2-1 advice sessions, training and resources to help enable and equip smaller organisations to break down barriers and progress on their ethnic diversity journey.

Leaders Ethnicity Ambition Forum (LEAF) series

Link will be coordinating a series of roundtable and discussion events for leaders on the issue of ethnic diversity improvements in 2024. These aim to increase engagement with, and confidence and capability on, the issues amongst senior leaders. Enabling leaders across the sector to be more effective drivers of change on ethnic diversity within their organisations, and sharing the experience and knowledge of leaders who are already active on the issue.

These events will focus on best practice, learning lessons from mistakes and successes, and exploring common problems and solutions, alongside upskilling sessions.