The green sector plays a critical role in protecting the planet and addressing some of the most pressing global challenges, such as climate change and biodiversity loss. However, despite the focus on equity and justice, bringing diversity to the profession and wider sector has been challenging. As the green economy grows, it is important that we prioritise creating opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to participate and contribute to this important work. This page acknowledges the challenges that the profession has faced and outlines how the Green Careers Hub will champion greater diversity across the sector.
Challenges within the profession and wider sector
The 2022 Racial Diversity in Environment Professions Report funded by IEMA, Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS), and the Natural Environment Research Council (Nerc), found that ‘Environment professionals’ are one of the least racially diverse professions in the UK, with just 4.81% identifying as Black, Asian or from other minority ethnic groups, compared to 12.64% across all UK professions.
A survey from the Sustainability Tool and the Supply Chain Sustainability School’s Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Programme in the construction and utilities sectors revealed that construction is also lacking in diversity. Construction relates very closely to a green future. The survey showed that for every 50 applicants from ethnic minority backgrounds, only one person is hired. By contrast, one in 16 white applicants are hired.
IEMA’s 2022 State of the Profession Survey found that 54% of members from an ethnic minority had experienced many barriers in developing their careers, compared to 32% of white members. This difference was even more stark for those aged 21-30 (62% vs 31%) and for black male members (63%). Unclear progression pathways were a key barrier experienced by IEMA members in their careers, but a lack of confidence was also key, particularly for women.
The RACE Report 2022 found that ‘just 7% of those working in the environmental charity sector identify as black, asian or minority ethnic, compared with a 14% national average across all people in employment.’
The Green Careers Hub as a tool to drive change
The research outlined above demonstrates that there are some key themes that need to be addressed to diversify the profession. The Green Careers Hub aims to:
- Showcase that green jobs are accessible to everyone, regardless of race, age, location, education, or sexual orientation, and encourage diverse individuals to get into green jobs
- Provide successful role models as inspiration to get into the sector
- Take action to support a more diversified profession by highlighting opportunities and supporting progression within the workplace.
We recognise the importance of representation, especially within a sector that lacks diversity. We’re committed to ensuring that our case studies and images across the site are inclusive of all underrepresented characteristics.
We commit to making the Green Careers Hub accessible to as many users as possible, including those with disabilities or accessibility needs.
We believe that inclusion is key when encouraging diversity as everyone deserves equal opportunities to pursue a career in the green sector. We will ensure that we are using inclusive language to prevent barriers for underrepresented groups. We will also ensure that we reference resources that address equality, diversity and inclusion topics.
To remain collaborative, we will continue to ask for feedback for areas of improvement through surveys and discussions. As well as this, we will involve our partners and steering group in relevant discussions.
We are committed to open and honest communication. We will provide clear and detailed information about upcoming opportunities and will be transparent about career paths by collecting personal case studies from people working within specific fields.
Support you can offer as an organisation
The Diverse Sustainability Initiative (DSI) is a 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 anyone who works as an environment or sustainability professional, as well as any other 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 not for profit field. Although this is a long-term goal, as founder members of the DSI we understand that organisations need support to proceed at pace; we cannot wait too long to build a diverse and accessible profession. Diverse organisations are both more resilient to external change and more successful; it serves us all to keep driving this change.
IEMA is the membership body for environment and sustainability professionals