Written By Edward Saul
After reading Sorrel Lyall’s article in Rare Bird Alert, “Birding in the UK: Where Are the People Like Me?”, I reached out to Ms. Lyall to discuss her findings and possible actions that can be taken to create an environment that prioritises EDI – Equality, Diversity & Inclusivity - in nature organisations.
After our discussion, Ms. Lyall provided the following statement in summary:
“After lots of thoughts bubbling up in my head about the lack of diversity in birding and nature, how this has made me feel in the past (as a half Indian half white British young female birder) and being aware of how this poor representation could make others feel, I decided to tweet all my thoughts along with an anonymous survey asking for the experiences of minority group birders. Since then, the response from nature organisations has been overwhelmingly positive and I am having many discussions with organisations across the UK.
A common theme is that there is not enough EDI action currently, and the larger organisations that are taking EDI action are not shouting about it and the public isn’t aware of their work. The larger organisations also have a responsibility to help smaller organisations with less resources to devote to EDI action - sharing ideas and resources and collaborating to work towards an inclusive nature movement. To me this is a no-brainer! Making this happen is the next step.
I’m hoping to be in discussion soon with the Scottish Environment Link and the equivalent Link groups in the rest of the UK to use their existing networks to facilitate collaboration across the sector. We are also in the process of setting up a working group for individuals who want to volunteer their time to tackle these issues, through research, writing, social media posts, talking to organisations and more. Watch this space!”
During our talk, I made a proposal to further our mutual goals: creating a database of nature organisations and tracking their efforts at creating inclusivity. The steps towards this project would be as follows:
- Research and list the major and minor nature and volunteering organisations in the UK, and get in touch with their leadership teams and human resource heads.
- Compile data on each organisation’s approaches to EDI based on the recommendations of EDI initiative adviser Steve Preddy (attached), and their relative effectiveness in regards to these approaches. Display this data in an accessible database, e.g. a Google Sheet or Dropbox document.
- Compare and contrast the gathered data in a thorough report, with clear infographics demonstrating how organisations are performing when it comes to marginalised groups – and where there is room for improvement.
- Work with organisations such as Scottish Environment Link, AFON and the UK Youth for Nature Group to make recommendations to as many organisations as possible on how to enhance their diversity outreach – e.g., Mentorship Schemes, dog-free and accessible spaces in natural parks.
If approached thoroughly and with care and attention paid to detail, I believe that this initiative can create tangible change in the infrastructure of nature organisations in the UK – and bring about new opportunities for the current and coming generations.