125 placement filled, and some reflections on Positive Action

March 30, 2022

Progress update
As Kickstart comes to an end, we are in the process of appointing our last few Kickstarters. To date, through Race for Nature, we have placed 125 young people into a total of 33 nature and climate charities and funders, and we have just six more vacancies to fill by the end of March. All the people we have placed have been aged 16-24 and 71% have come from underrepresented groups, including 50 people of colour. Of those that have come to the end of their six-month placements, 40% have managed to find further employment in the sector, which we are really pleased about. We have managed to showcase some of them, like the amazing Sam, who started with us at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, before getting a job at London Wildlife Trust.

Collaborative progress
As well getting the placements filled, we are delighted to see our host organisations working together to change systems and processes to make their organisations more accessible and inclusive for underrepresented groups. These actions include:

• Placing jobs in more diverse communities;

• Removing minimum expectations on experience and education;

• Guaranteed interviews for underrepresented groups, if they meet all of the essential criteria;

• Fixed-term roles advertised for only BAME individuals.

In our view, the latter two points are both classed as positive action and are therefore acceptable in employment law. For both, you must be able to demonstrate that you are underrepresented for people of colour at the level that you are recruiting, and for the BAME only roles, they must be of fixed duration (i.e. not permanent). This isn't just our view though. The Environment Agency recently advertised for some BAME-only placements, as show in their advert here, and the BBC has done it too.

SOS-UK case study
The charity I work for, SOS-UK, is a useful case study of the positive effect these positive actions can have. Last summer we implemented a guaranteed interview scheme for people of colour, as well as the removal of the expectation of a university degree. Typically, despite our best efforts, just 5-10% of candidates that applied for jobs with us identified as people of colour. However, in our recent recruitment, that increased to 44%. Our shortlist for interview comprised of 30% people of colour and one of the two candidates we appointed was a person of colour.

Before implementing the guaranteed interview scheme, we did a lot of research into what constitutes positive action and took some legal advice. There is a useful article the legalities of positive action here. We believe that our guaranteed interview scheme for people of colour is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim (principle 3 in the article). Of course, positive action can become positive discrimination, and for that reason we don’t have quotas or targets, our approach is more similar to reserved places on shortlists (which the European Court of Justice has ruled as potentially proportionate – principle 4). Our approach seeks to remove the application barriers that we know BAME applicants face in the shortlisting phase, even with anonymous recruitment and removing personal details. Our interview and selection phase then allows us to select the best person for the role - irrespective of their identity - and is robust and based on merit alone (principle 2).

Thanks to our partners
As Race for Nature’s recruitment phase comes to a close, we just wanted to say thanks to all our amazing employers, listed below, for all your determination and support. We look forward to continuing to support you for the final six months of the programme, and to working with you to help keep as many of the young people in the sector as is possible.

2050 Climate Group; Action for Conservation; Bat Conservation Trust; Blue Marine Foundation; Born Free Foundation; British Antarctic Survey; British Trust for Ornithology; Brookes Union; Bumblebee Conservation Trust; Chester Zoo;  ClientEarth ; Earthwatch; Energise; Four Paws; Freesat; Friends of the Earth; Generation Success; Green Schools Project; Institution of Environmental Sciences; League Against Cruel Sports; Mammal Society; Marine Conservation Society; OneVoice Digital; Possible; RSPB; Students Organising for Sustainability; Staffordshire Wildlife Trust; Synchronicity Earth; Trees for Cities; VOYAGE; Wildlife and Countryside Link; Woodland Trust; Zoological Society of London

Jamie Agombar
Executive Director, SOS-UK

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