Ecology and environmental management is not a very diverse and inclusive profession. A 2017 Policy Exchange report that looked at over 200 professions in the UK reported that environmental professions were the second least diverse of all those reviewed. A shocking statistic. Our own 2021 Equality, Diversity and Inclusion survey of our membership reiterated this, highlighting not only issues of diversity within the sector but also a lack of equality in terms of experience.
Diversity, not only diversity of skin colour or ethnicity, but also of ability and disability, gender identity, sexual orientation and social background makes us a stronger profession. One that is better able to draw on the widest pool of talents and skills needed to tackle the environmental crises we face.
At CIEEM we are on a mission to create change and to make the ecology and environmental management profession more inclusive, more welcoming and more diverse. We know that environmental concern and action – so often the precursors of a career within the sector – are not the preserve of any one social, ethnic, racial, or gender group. So we need to understand:
- Why that concern and action is not translating into a professional career choice.
- What the barriers are that prevent people seeing themselves as an ecologist or environmental manager.
- How we can champion our profession as a profession for all and create more routes into it.
At a time when we face a capacity crisis in the sector, we need to be welcoming people in, not shutting them out.
We have made a start. In 2020 we adopted the Royal Academy of Engineering/Science Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Progression Framework for Professional Bodies which enabled us to review our own practices and progress as an organisation and set targets for improvement. We also joined the Diverse Sustainability Initiative to work with like-minded organisations in promoting diverse and inclusive environmental professions. In 2021 we funded some research into the lack of ethnic diversity within our profession. The summary Breaking Down the Barriers to Inclusion report identified a number of actions for CIEEM and others to take that would, over time, create change.
In order to implement many of the actions arising from this report, CIEEM’s Governing Board has pledged a 5 year funding programme to support diversity and inclusion activities. These include:
- Appointing a new staff member with dedicated responsibility to lead on activities to promote diversity and inclusion
- Creation of engaging and inclusive STEM career resources and training members to deliver them across the STEM schools network, reaching beyond our usual networks
- Developing a new careers website showcasing the range of opportunities available
- Providing training to members on creating diverse and inclusive work environments
- Working with others to create a wider choice of learning and training opportunities to enter the profession (e.g. apprenticeships, T-levels).
But we want to move faster and do more and we need your help. We are looking for companies and organisations willing to invest a minimum of £5k in our diversity and inclusion work so that we can match-fund the Board’s commitment. Interested? Then please do get in touch with us at email@example.com and become a partner in one of the most important journeys of our time.
And in the meantime, why not take action yourself right now? If you are a professional in ecology or environmental management, have you thought about raising awareness of your career with young people in your local community? You might also consider becoming a STEM Ambassador in order to reach out to the next generation of potential professionals. If you also happen to be a member of CIEEM, why not sign up to become a mentor through our dedicated platform.