Boosting diversity within the profession

Three years ago, a Policy Exchange survey identified the environment and sustainability sector as the second-least diverse among 202 professions in the UK. While this statistic is often quoted, it has been seldom acted upon – until now.

Small pockets of best practice are starting to appear, such as the SOS-UK Kickstarter programme, but greater action is needed if we are to change the culture at the heart of this problem. We need large-scale systemic changes across the profession to improve its appeal and accessibility, and to ensure anyone can progress, regardless of their background.

IEMA has committed to delivering a programme of work to improve representation across the profession. We recognise that this work must be well planned and include short, medium and long-term goals with a consensus among all members and partners if we are going to achieve the wholesale change needed to reflect a truly global organisation.

In September, our first roundtable on diversity in the sustainability sector marked the beginning of this work. IEMA members, including people from black, white, Asian and minority backgrounds, joined with external critical friends from diverse communities to outline the challenges and barriers faced by black, Asian and minority communities, and discuss solutions and ideas.

The recommendations generated by these discussions were then taken to a CEO roundtable, which IEMA convened during Black History Month. Representatives from across the sector discussed the challenges and barriers in their own organisations, and committed to a set of objectives for holding each other to account in future.

The next steps in this work will be to widen consultation with the IEMA membership, create a sector-wide strategy for improving representation, and host further roundtables for accountability and direction.

If you would like to know more about the diversity programme, email Lisa Pool, membership marketing manager, on [email protected]

Image Credit | Getty Images
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