In 2020, me and two Ashden colleagues shared our thoughts and experiences as the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum. What was eye-opening for me was seeing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) spark debates and headlines around the world. My fear, though, was that this movement would quickly become yesterday’s news. Would it lead to significant change? We all know that actions speak louder than words.
Fast forward to 2023, and when I look back at the steps Ashden has taken to implement DEI in all areas of its work, I am proud of the progress we’ve made. It underpins our work, and my colleagues are embracing what we are doing as an organisation. They understand there is learning needed and difficult conversations to be had, and we all acknowledge that we always need to work and develop.
Our actions so far include working with recruiters to find more diverse job applicants and improving diversity on the judging panels for our Ashden Awards – in the spirit of ‘nothing about us without us’. We have also taken steps to appoint our first DEI champion on the Ashden board of trustees.
What better example of DEI in action than those Ashden Award winners. Against all odds, they pioneer solutions that lead the way to create a just and fair world – tackling inequality head on. Organisations such as Edinburgh’s The Welcoming. They run green projects including urban allotments and clothing repair classes that also help refugees thrive in their new home. Or Togo’s Energy Generation, whose innovative training helps women build careers in renewable energy sector, recognising that gender inequality is a huge barrier limiting the chances of millions.
We know that the climate crisis disproportionally affects those who have the least contributed to the problems we are facing, which makes the work these organisations do more inspirational.
As Ashden’s new DEI Lead, I look forward to understanding and sharing with my colleagues. It’s a huge topic, we don’t have all the answers, but together we can learn. Like many organisations based in wealthy countries but also working in lower income nations, we also need to ask tough questions about how our actions can support decolonisation and hand power to those denied it.
What we do know for certain is that we will never solve the climate crisis without addressing the inequality in our societies and around the world. So, it is important that at Ashden we lead by example and show our winners, partners and funders the importance of this topic and what we are doing. We will be transparent, share our progress and keep DEI at the heart of everything we do.