Our Diversity and Inclusion Commitment
The Soil Association is an equal opportunities employer. As we seek to protect the diversity of our natural world, we’re also working to celebrate the diversity of people, and make our workplace a welcoming environment for all.
This means creating a workplace which is fair, safe, accessible and inclusive, where everyone feels like they belong, like they have a voice, and that they can succeed and thrive.
We know that we are a long way off this target, but we’re committed to the journey. As well as our organisation, the farming and environment sectors are not as inclusive and accessible as we would like them to be, and we'd like to address this however we can.
Our current focus is on improving the inclusivity of our recruitment and workforce procedures, and setting equality goals in our next People Plan. We believe these are the most meaningful first steps we can take. It’s through our people we can aspire to be greater, in including new communities and audiences, learning about cultures and lifestyles, understanding how our work can change lives, and help others do likewise.
We are signatories of the Bristol Equality Charter and pledge to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Through this framework, which we’ll apply across our UK-wide services, we will be held accountable to diversity and inclusion commitments by our boards, staff, supporters, and stakeholders.
As our first steps to act in accordance with our commitments:
- All Soil Association managers are required, and all colleagues are encouraged, to attend training modules on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We are determined to ensure our organisational culture is one where everyone feels included and comfortable at work, and able to unlock their full potential.
- We have a range of staff-led groups for people to safely discuss and share learnings, thoughts and experiences of diversity and inclusion - at the Soil Association and within the wider environment, food, farming and land use sectors.
- We have implemented an applicant tracking system, which will enable us to monitor our applicant data and support blind recruiting to lessen unconscious biases in the recruitment process.
- We’re consulting and bringing in external voices, so we have a rounded perspective, as we know we’re not currently diverse enough internally to represent all views.
Our latest Equality Data Survey measured the self-identified demographics of our Soil Association colleagues at August 2020. We’re publishing this to be transparent.
- Ethnic representation: 90% of colleagues identified as ‘white’ or ‘mixed white’, compared to 86% of the UK population.
- Education: 85% of colleagues have either an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree. Whereas research found that only 26% of jobs in the UK require a degree.
- Religion: Islam has no representation within our organisation, whereas Muslims constitute 5% of the UK population.
- Disability: 6% of colleagues identified as having a disability whereas 18% of the working age population are disabled - as defined by the UK Equality Act.
- Sexual orientation: 11% of colleagues identified as having a minority sexual orientation.
- Working patterns: 39% of colleagues work part time and 26% work from home (as standard).
We recognise that we have lots of important progress to make with regards to our staff representation in how we reflect our communities, audiences and partners. We're actively mindful about this and have great ambition to bring change into our reach, connections, systems and processes. These findings provide a helpful focus while planning our next steps on this journey.
Our values of Fairness, Care, Health and Ecology mean we want to make positive impact in the world. We also want to be a workforce where everyone belongs, culturally brings that missing piece to our puzzle, and is excited about contributing to the change we want to see in the world. So, if you can see the part you want to play in that, do apply for one of our vacancies, we will be working proactively to improve our organisation and continue to make it a warm and supportive work-base for you.
How we will create change
We are reviewing our organisational processes to ensure they do not limit any communities joining our workforce and actively removing all the barriers we can. We are doing this through:
- Colleague consultation
We recognise that we can’t have all the answers, so we’ve set aside time to listen. We’ll be asking our colleagues to share their thoughts, feelings and learnings as part of frank, open forum Town Halls and staff consultation activities where we can learn more about experiences of inclusivity in our workplace. We’re not looking to be tokenistic. Getting a fuller picture will help us foster real change.
- More inclusive processes
We want to do all we can to hasten the time when our sector truly embraces diversity - in the field and within our organisations. The Soil Association is, and should be, for everyone. We’ve taken steps to make our recruitment channels more accessible and updated our processes to make sure we reach candidates who will encourage our diversity in thought, experience and knowledge.
But this is only the start of what we need to do. If we want to ensure that everyone has the chance to appreciate nature, enjoy good food, and that environmental, farming, food and forestry career choices are accessible to people from all walks of life, then we must work proactively to help this happen. We are committed to keep working do so.