As the diversity and inclusion champion on the Society for the Environment Board, Sandra Norval CEnv introduces the aim of increasing diversity and our goal to build on the Society’s ambition to become more inclusive in every way, as Pride Month (June) 2020 comes to an end.
At the Society’s recent AGM I reflected on my first year as Honorary Treasurer on the Society for the Environment Board. I joined keen to help the organisation in the next stage of development and at the 2019 AGM said that I would also be the champion for Diversity & Inclusion. Like everyone else I had no idea of the epic year that was to come with challenges that have exposed inequity in our society in stark relief.
Strong voices have come to the fore. More people are starting to understand the true meaning of Black Lives Matter, LGBTQI+ rights and climate injustices. The unequal impact of global scale challenges like Coronavirus on people in poverty, or who have existing vulnerability is more visible than before.
It is problematic to expect that leaders who have struggled to maintain current ways of thinking will have the solutions we need and a lot of learning is rapidly taking place to begin to understand what is possible.
But when we listen to the diverse range of voices there are plenty of answers available to us, we just need to ensure those voices are given the floor.
So, how do we do that?
Well, a wise adage is that we should listen more than we speak but that still suggests that the listener will then interpret and create the future. In some cases, change will occur and that is a part of the future we need to shape but what if we did more? We have to act on an acceptance that we cannot hope to create appropriate solutions if we have not lived the experience of the negative impacts we intend to resolve. We can’t assume that the answers we come up with are the answers everyone needs.
What if, instead of assuming we can listen and create answers ourselves all the time, we said ‘take the floor’, or ‘show us’?
What if we ensured that the upcoming professionals working, or wanting to work in the environmental profession could easily see and reach out to people who inspire them who are like them?
For me, this is the gap we need to address. We have some incredible talent in the Chartered Environmentalist and Registered Environmental Technician registers and a history of sharing people’s stories. As we near the end of Pride Month and bear witness to the positive impact of the Black Lives Matter movement, all against a backdrop of lockdown and rapid behaviour shifts we can mark a moment in time.
It is a moment where we can say yes, we are shaping the future we want by bringing fresh voices to the fore, shining a light on the diverse journeys our registrants have taken. We can follow this by planning how we can support individuals in their ambitions to professionalise. Including people who may have struggled to join discussions in the past is the only way we can truly achieve our goals because a sustainable world can only exist if it is also equitable.
In my first year I began with raising challenges in board meetings and we have made changes through positive discussion and debate but my next step will be to plan how we need to adapt to ensure we keep improving. Continuous improvement is a standard part of any board’s role but if we don’t diversify our profession there will be a ceiling to what can be achieved.
We know our Member Bodies are taking their own actions too and we are committed to supporting them and our registrants in shaping the future. I can’t wait to hear what you are all working on!
CEnv Diversity Insights
To support this diversity article we invited a number of CEnv registrants to tell us about their journey and to give their view on diversity issues, opportunities and insight into what they see as the key areas of diversity to focus on. To find out what they said, have a watch of each video below.