An update on Race Equity at the RSPB

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Nature is in crisis, and we need more people, and more diverse people to act now. Here we share the latest RACE Report data. The RACE Report is an external report we are voluntarily involved in that works to encourage the UK environmental charities and their funders to tackle the lack of racial diversity in the sector, and update on the steps we are taking to increase ethnic diversity. 

People from ethnically diverse backgrounds are significantly underrepresented in the UK conservation workforce, disproportionately affected by climate change, and often not involved in conversations around responses to the nature and climate emergency.   

Like most organisations in the conservation sector, we are on our own journey to understand how we enable more and more diverse people to act for nature. We also know that people of colour are significantly underrepresented within our own organisation, and so we recognise that we need to do more to enable people of colour to thrive at the RSPB.  

Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) underpins the work we do to save nature, and it is embedded in our 2030 strategy and its six strategic shifts. 

We’re committed to making the RSPB somewhere everyone can thrive and live our shared values, and have invested in our EDI efforts in recent years.  We’ve made some good progress:  

  • We are collaborating with external organisations and signed up to the Wildlife and Countryside Link ‘route map’ towards greater ethnic diversityand the RACE Report. Through these collaborations we are committing ourselves to take collective action and share data to improve ethnic diversity across the conservation sector, whilst holding ourselves accountable.  

  • Internally, we’ve recruited a Senior Race Equity Specialist to lead on our ambition to widen ethnic minority representation and inclusion.  

  • We’re developing and embedding inclusive recruitment practices to increase representation including attracting more candidates from diverse backgrounds.    

  • All of our senior leaders are completing Inclusive leadership training, run by Full Colour (an Equality Diversity and Inclusion consultant).   

  • Our EDI programme is supporting the whole organisation to fully understand why EDI matters to our mission and the actions they can take. 

  • And we’re working with people of colour-led groups to increase access to employment in nature conservation. 

  • More broadly on EDI, we’re improving accessibility on our reserves, including the information we provide. We recognise that everyone’s connection and ability to access nature is different and we want to work collaboratively to remove barriers and reflect on our role in creating them. 

These are important steps in the right direction, but we know there is still so much more we need to do.  

RACE report data

The RACE Report is an external report led by a diverse partnership to encourage UK environmental charities and their funders to tackle the ongoing lack of racial diversity in the sector. It’s something we have been voluntarily involved in since the start of the initiative in 2022. We encourage all organisations to take part so that we can tackle and work together on the systemic change needed.   

The latest RACE Report tells us that there are high levels of enjoyment in the sector and a sense of belonging, with 86% saying that they would recommend working at their organisation to other people with same background or identity.  This percentage, however, fell to 79% for people of colour who are not experiencing the same level of belonging.  

At the RSPB, ethnic minority representation of our paid workforce currently stands at 2.8%. This is significantly below the average of 6% amongst 137 environment organisations participating in the RACE Report, and we are determined to change this.   

We recognise from this report that people of colour may also feel isolated and less able to be themselves at work. This is not good enough and we are committed to tackling these issues and making real change. So what are we doing about it?   

We are focusing on:   

  • Education and action: rolling out race equity learning opportunities across the organisation so that our people have access to the tools, skills and knowledge.  

  • Support and wellbeing: improving access for people to raise concerns; strengthening our health and wellbeing support.    

  • Development and progression: Removing barriers that prevent equity of career progression for our employees of colour. 

  • Sharing knowledge and understanding: capturing, sharing and embedding examples of best practice across our organisation and the wider sector.  

How will we achieve this?   

We are setting up a dedicated taskforce to help us move further and faster towards removing the barriers within our organisation that produce racial disparities. This is an approach that is being used to bring change in other organisations too.  

Reporting to the Executive Board, the taskforce will include people of colour including members of Beyond Differences group (our race equity staff and volunteer network), and representatives from across the organisation.

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive, said

There is no denying that the findings of the RACE Report highlight the need for urgent change within the environmental sector. This will be an important tool for us to use as part of our ongoing commitment to being a truly inclusive RSPB and brings us together as a movement for greater ethnic diversity while holding the sector accountable.

As part of our ongoing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion work, we are continuing our journey towards building an RSPB where everyone can thrive. We know there is still much more we need to do, and we are implementing the interventions needed to widen opportunities for people of colour to access and have a meaningful say and part in the future of conservation. We are determined to get this right because it will take all of us to turn the tide for nature.”

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