Race Equality Environmental Programme Year 3: Reflections and Opportunities

Race Equality Environmental Programme Year 3: Reflections and Opportunities

How do we improve the racial diversity of our workforce? What information should we ask for in equality and diversity forms? How do we build anti-racism and EDI into our organisational culture? All common questions that our environmental clients on the Race Equality Environmental Programme (‘REEP’) ask when joining. The aim of the REEP programme is to mainstream race equality into the policies, practices and every day functions of environmental organisations in Scotland. The programme does this through three separate limbs: 1-2-1 consultancy support; training and workshops; and good practice guides. The programme is fully funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and there is no charge for organisations to access this race equality support. Through this blog post, we wish to reflect on our learnings from the first two years of working with clients in the sector and look ahead to the opportunities of our third year.

A mid-support questionnaire was sent to 10 organisations who are clients on REEP in July 2023 to assess whether there is a measured improvement in the organisation’s knowledge on EDI issues/barriers, and a measured increase in their capacity to address racial equality as a result of the consultancy. 89% of organisations advised they feel more empowered to embed race equality into their policies and practices and as a result of consultancy, 89% have taken follow-up actions and are on track with implementing their plans. Clients also advised that it “was really useful to have 1-2-1 support which helped us identify and focus on the issues that were most relevant to us”, that they “feel supported when it comes to our EDI journey” and “it’s great to have a source of expertise to tap into”.

Over the two years that REEP has been active, we have learned that the majority of environmental organisations we have engaged with are willing to take action to address race inequality and improve diversity but are unsure how to achieve this. The demand for this support is evidenced by a significant increase of clients from 7 to 21 from funding year 1 to funding year 2. The support offered through REEP acting as a ‘critical friend’ provides space and time for organisations to address these issues in more depth and take guidance on how to focus their efforts strategically at organisational level.

We have also learned that organisations in the environment sector we are engaged with share common challenges both internally and externally. For example, a failure to recruit a more diverse workforce or failure to effectively engage with ethnic minority communities. Despite an increased uptake of support, organisations in the environment sector are oftentimes working in silos and there is limited opportunity to discuss sector-wide challenges and to share good practice and learning between organisations. As a result of this, REEP in collaboration with the Scottish Environmental Link is about to launch the Scottish Environmental EDI Network (‘SEEN’) to combat silo working and to encourage more sector-wide dialogue around race equality and EDI.

Furthermore, in our third year we hope to continue to support clients with race equality leading to better staff representation and inclusion at all levels of organisations, and seek to bridge the gap that exists between ethnic minority communities and mainstream environmental organisations through collaborative events with our Ethnic Minority Environmental Network. If you are an environmental organisation in Scotland and would like to find out more about the REEP programme or are interested in becoming a client, please get in contact with our Environmental Race Equality Officer, Christopher Clannachan, at [email protected].

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