Collaborative project calls for environmental charities to increase racial diversity

More than 30 charities have committed to a scheme to improve racial diversity in the environmental sector.

Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation are among the voluntary organisations collaborating on the Racial Action for Climate Emergency project, which aims to make charities’ performance on diversity more transparent.

Manu Maunganidze, who works for the RACE project, described the current lack of diversity among environmental charities as “sobering”.

Figures released by RACE show that black and ethnic minority staff represent just 4.8 per cent of employees at environmental bodies, compared with more than 12 per cent in all professions.

The project’s organisers said in a statement that they wanted RACE to “encourage UK environmental charities and their funders to tackle the ongoing lack of racial diversity in their workforce and governing bodies”.

RACE plans to collect and analyse diversity data from charities for the next six months, and then publish annual benchmarks for racial representation until at least 2027. The project will also publish diversity data on named charities from 2023 onward.

Jason Palmer, diversity and inclusion manager at Friends of the Earth, said: “Transparency and accountability are necessary to advancing climate justice.

“The RACE report has the potential to catalyse a step-change in the environmental movement, to meaningfully break down the barriers that have historically excluded people of colour from climate campaigning.”

Andrew Kpodonu, head of activism at the food charity Feedback, which has also signed up to RACE, said that he hoped the project would encourage a “frank discussion about the pace of change in the sector”. He added: “We will soon find out which organisations are prepared to do the hard work that comes with genuine transformation versus those which are only comfortable with change when it’s reserved to Instagram posts.”

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