2023 Press release: Environmental charity sector boosts participation for racial diversity initiative

February 5, 2024

Guest blog

The inaugural report, released in December 2022, saw 91 organisations representing 7,900 employees submit data on the racial diversity of their workforce. The latest report, released today 5th February, sees a 56% increase in organisation participation and a 63% increase in the number of employees represented. 

The overall findings of the second instalment of The RACE Report – which collected data from April to October of 2023 – remained broadly consistent with the previous year’s report. Namely, that 6% of employees identify as people of colour and other racially or ethnically minoritised groups. This compares with 7% reported in 2022, indicating little movement year on year (given the evolved sample size of this year's report, this decrease is of low statistical significance). However, it compares with an average across the UK workforce of 15% of employees who identify as people of colour and other racially or ethnically minoritised groups.

Rapid action is therefore needed to ensure the sector addresses this lack of representation and reflects the diversity of the modern British workforce. However, the report suggests that a higher proportion of participating organisations have either fully or partially implemented inclusion-boosting initiatives over the past year compared with 2022’s data:

  • 11% of organisations had published or were in the process of publishing data on their race equity pay gap – the same proportion as the largest 250 charities in the UK – vs 5% in 2022.
  • 63% of organisations reported the full implementation of a senior leader with official responsibility for equality, diversity and inclusion (vs 44% in 2022). 
  • 85% of organisations also said they either had partially or fully implemented a regular review of equality, diversity and inclusion activities to ensure they remain effective and impactful (vs 80% in 2022). 

This year’s report also saw a proportional increase in participation from organisations with 50 – 249 employees, with these larger organisations now accounting for 26% of organisations submitting data (vs 16% in 2022).

This year’s RACE Report also includes a Staff Perceptions Survey which aims to contextualise diversity data within the lived experiences of employees. 1,552 respondents across 43 organisations participated in this survey from June to July 2023. According to the average score across all organisations and all identities –  including people of colour and other racially or ethnically minoritised groups (POC) and white identities – 95% of survey respondents said they enjoy working at their organisations.

Additional staff perception findings include:

  • While the majority of respondents agreed that their organisation actively identifies and opposes racism through its policies, white identities were more likely to agree with this statement than their POC colleagues (68% vs 56%)
  • Likewise, while the majority of respondents felt that there are as many opportunities for them to succeed in their organisation as there are for their peers, white identities were more likely to agree with this statement than their POC colleagues (66% vs 51%) 
  • Respondents identifying as POC were more likely to report needing to adapt in order to fit into an organisation’s culture than white identities (41% vs 24%). 
  • Overall, the majority (74%) of POC respondents reported that they felt they belonged in their organisation (compared with 84% of white identities)

When analysing the findings on an individual basis (rather than taking an average according to organisation), POC were more likely to report having witnessed or experienced racist harassment or bullying amongst colleagues than white respondents (14% vs 6%).

More qualitative responses from POC referenced instances of being overlooked and feeling isolated, while others felt valued by their team but not through remuneration or career progression. Qualitative responses from white identities attributed a lack of diversity in their organisation to issues within recruitment processes, such as unconscious bias and placing too great an emphasis on past volunteering experience. 

Manu Maunganidze, from The RACE Report team, said:

“It's encouraging to see how much the sector’s engagement with racial diversity has grown in just one year. The more data we have at our disposal, the better equipped we are to shape best practice and ensure we are amplifying underrepresented voices in the fight for social and environmental justice. 
“Each organisation who has come forward to contribute to this report has done a brilliant thing in voluntarily submitting their data. We now need to make sure that this engagement translates into more meaningful progress. That means reflecting on what the data tells us, but also really listening to the lived experiences of the individuals who power our sector. It’s only through having these difficult conversations, learning from each other, and implementing inclusive practices that we’ll ensure next year’s report tells a story of both an appetite for change and tangible improvement.”

The Charity Commission’s register of charities lists over 8,000 charities whose activities include the word ‘environment’ and over 2,000 charities whose activities include the word ‘nature’. 

Going forward, The RACE Report seeks to increase the number of environmental organisations participating in this initiative even further to improve best practice on racial equity and unite the sector towards a shared goal of building an inclusive workforce.