Our News

Addressing Lack of Representation

March 2021 by Helen Filby

For some time now, we have been discussing how within our organisation, and in our field of sustainability and climate change solutions, we can do something more concrete to address the lack of Black voices and the lack of representation in our field. As an organisation, we are diverse in gender, orientation and origin, but we are not diverse in terms of ethnicity. We have identified some of the barriers that we need to address in order to do better. We want to support underrepresented individuals and communities, and we think we will need some help in doing so…

As a charity, we rely on a team of brilliant volunteers to support the functions of our day-to-day activities. Unfortunately, though we would if we could, we currently can’t afford to pay our volunteers. Whilst we provide a lunch allowance and travel expenses for public transport and cycling when volunteers are working in our office, as a way of going some way towards this. We recognise that this is not enough as it automatically excludes anyone not in a position to work without a salary. We understand that this is a key barrier, for many, to undertaking voluntary work, and to gaining the key skills and experience it provides.

The majority of our current team started off with us as volunteers. Having already picked up much of the skill and knowledge required, the transition into more permanent roles is seamless, saving the charity time and money on induction and training. We feel more confident offering paid work to those who are already committed, hardworking members of the voluntary team, which seems fairer given the time and enthusiasm they have already dedicated to The Project. However, this creates a self-perpetuating cycle of recruiting those who have the time and means to work without a salary to begin with, in order to potentially gain one, further gatekeeping opportunities to paid work within the sector.

We’ve identified an opportunity to address this through providing funded positions, that would mirror the current voluntary roles we offer, to individuals and communities that currently are less likely to be able to access voluntary work and the benefits it provides. We are therefore asking for your help in three areas in order to do this:

  1. Do you know of any funds or grant processes that we could directly apply to for funding?
    We are yet to come across funds that explicitly provide funding to address the representation of Black and minority ethnic voices within environmental movements or more generally in workplaces, and that we would be eligible to apply for. Please let us know if there are any, obvious or not, that we should know about.
  2. Do you know of any organisation that might be willing to help fund this work?
    This could be an organisation that works exclusively to help address these issues within the sector, or one that has expressed an interest in helping to make positive change in this area, potentially through their work with social value, community and skills, or charitable giving. Introductions, where possible, are much appreciated.
  3. Might you or your organisation be able to help fund some of this work?
    We are open to discussions as to what this might look like, and would appreciate any support to help us address this issue.

If you think you might be able to help us with any of the areas outlined above, or indeed have any other advice on this subject, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Whilst we are currently specifically looking to improve representation in terms of ethnicity, we recognise that we similarly have work to do in other areas, such as social mobility for those from working class backgrounds or those with disabilities, who might equally struggle to access voluntary positions. We also welcome discussion in these areas.

We would be very grateful for any and all support to help The Carbon Literacy Project be a better and more equal workplace.

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