UK

Environmental groups join pledge to increase diversity in green workforce

A barn owl at Ham Wall nature reserve, Somerset. More than 70 organisations have joined a campaign to increase diversity in the environment sector (James Manning/PA)
A barn owl at Ham Wall nature reserve, Somerset. More than 70 organisations have joined a campaign to increase diversity in the environment sector (James Manning/PA) A barn owl at Ham Wall nature reserve, Somerset. More than 70 organisations have joined a campaign to increase diversity in the environment sector (James Manning/PA)

More than 70 environmental organisations have joined a pledge to increase diversity in the green workforce.

WWF, Wildlife and Countryside Link, the RSBP and the Woodland Trust are among the groups who have joined the campaign “Force of Nature”, led by community charity Groundwork.

The initiative, launched on Monday, is calling on the environmental sector to create more accessible pathways into work for young people from all backgrounds.

The organisations have committed to creating an action plan to make them more inclusive, adopt recruitment practices that proactively seek to address a lack of diversity in the sector and open up pathways for diverse talent.

It comes after a number of inclusion challenges were identified in the sector.

Just 7% of those working for environmental charities, trusts and foundations came from an ethnically diverse background, compared with an average 14% across all professions, according to last year’s Race Report, which saw almost 100 groups submit data on their workforce.

Meanwhile, only 4.8% of employees working in the sector overall came from an ethnically diverse background, compared with 12.6% average across all professions, according to research from the SOS-UK, the Natural Environment Research Council and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.

In a another report issued by Research Institute for Disabled Consumers, 57% of disabled people feel excluded from being able to reduce their environmental impact.

The Force of Nature campaign is also providing resources and guidance to support improved recruitment processes.

Graham Duxbury, Groundwork’s UK chief executive, said: “The diversity challenge for the environmental sector is well documented, and being addressed through a range of complementary initiatives.

“Making sure our recruitment and development practices are inclusive and accessible is an important piece of the jigsaw.

“As a movement in the midst of a climate and nature crisis we need to be as effective as possible at engaging all sections of society in our work.”

Richard Benwell, chief executive of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “There’s still a long road to travel to ensure recruitment, culture and day-to-day practice make the sector as inclusive, welcoming and representative as possible, but this is another step forward.

“We want to help ensure that everyone has the chance to be a force for nature whether through individual action, their career or being part of a movement. An inclusive and representative environmental movement is a stronger one.”

Billy Knowles, programme director at Youth Environmental Service, said: “For too long there have been too few opportunities for too few people to build a career in our sector.

“If we’re going to avert the worst harms of environmental and biodiversity breakdown, we need a new generation of confident, capable and connected environmentalists that reflects our fantastically diverse society.

“Opening up new pathways to careers in the sector, with inclusive and accessible recruitment practices embedded for every role, is a critical first step towards building the workforce we need, and we’re proud to be part of the Force of Nature campaign that can make this happen.”