Waves at sea level Thierry Meier

One Ocean for Everyone: RACE Report 2022

3 minute read

The environment sector is one of the least diverse in the UK, as reflected in the results of the RACE Report, released this week.

This is problematic on many levels – it's not fair, it’s not inclusive and, if we are all to survive and thrive, then the movement needs to be one that is engaging, empowering and inspiring to everyone.

Here at the Marine Conservation Society, the vision of One Ocean for Everyone is at the heart of our mission. We believe that everyone has the right to access the many benefits our amazing ocean provides to people, and that the opportunity to get involved in working towards a healthy, thriving future ocean should be open to anyone. In fact, we recognise that the current lack of diversity in the environment movement is actually hampering progress.

This year, for the first time, a student-led organisation, Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK), has published an account of how the sector is performing against certain racial diversity targets – called the RACE Report. This is a UK-wide racial reporting initiative aimed at encouraging UK environmental charities and fundraisers to improve the racial diversity of their workforce and governing bodies.

It’s great to see this youth-led initiative that will provide insights into whether the efforts being made across the sector are driving the change we need to see. Of course, change will happen in many ways, and we believe the RACE Report will be a really useful dashboard to keep an eye on some aspects of that change.

Released today, The RACE Report campaign has revealed 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. This is the first in a series of annual reports which will serve as a robust benchmark for the sector’s progress and provide constructive insights.

The report’s findings suggest that although the sector is making encouraging, steady progress – and excelling in some areas – it must make further, faster progress to build a workforce that is more representative of modern Britain.

The Report requires quite a lot of different data, not all of which is routinely collected by organisations, so 2022 is a benchmarking year. While we have welcomed the initiative, and absolutely support the need for transparency in this area, we've had to put plans in place to make sure we can capture the data we need to join the Report next year. For example, in preparation for next year’s Report, our applicant tracking system for our recruitment process has been set up to reflect the categories that the RACE Report requires.

We have preferred to ask our team to anonymously self-express their cultural heritage and chosen identity and we’ve been committed to blind recruitment processes for a decade. Our new recruitment system records anonymous data on representation and diversity in our applicants, which will support the way the RACE Report is structured. Our data will join others in the environment and climate justice sectors so that we can share learnings and ask those difficult questions that will bring much-needed voices to the preservation of our planet.

Over the past two years, as an organisation, we’ve been working to address equity, inclusion and diversity to ensure that we are as representative and accessible as we can be.

In 2020, we made the following commitments:

  • As staff members we will nurture a welcoming culture where everyone can be their authentic self. We all have a responsibility to put fairness, inclusion, representation and respect at the heart of our work.
  • As an organisation we will develop a more representative and inclusive workforce and Board. Externally, we will increase the diversity of our members and supporters across all geographies and backgrounds. And we will make our projects, campaigns and events more accessible and inclusive.
  • As part of the wider environmental movement we will drive, share and learn from best practice and advocate fairness, inclusion, representation and respect in both the sector and governance of the ocean.

We’ve been working hard to make these commitments measurable, acutely aware of the need to report back on our progress in this area. You can read our latest Impact report for updates on our One Ocean for Everyone work, which spans all areas of our work at the Marine Conservation Society including operations, engagement, conservation, communications and much more. We will continue to measure and report back on this progress for our members, supporters and wider community.

It’s really encouraging to see increased momentum around diversifying the sector and we feel there is room for some optimism in the coming years. But some of the underlying reasons for a lack of diversity are deep, systemic issues. Things are only going to change with time and hard work. There is certainly a high level of shared commitment and drive among the Marine Conservation Society’s staff to act now in order to ensure we can reach our goals.