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Sharing the successes of working together on diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racism

A group of organisations in the sustainable food and farming sector reflects on a year of holding a peer group on diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racism.

People in an online meeting. Credit: Rivage | Unsplash

People in an online meeting. Credit: Rivage | Unsplash

Since June 2023 individuals representing 15 national food-focused organisations have met every six to eight weeks to work towards becoming more inclusive, diverse, equitable and anti-racist organisations. This group grew out of the Food Learning Forum that provides learning and networking opportunities to Sustain alliance members.

The peer group uses an action learning framework to openly share challenges and receive support and advice from others in a supportive and confidential space. This approach has been new to many participants and whilst potentially daunting at first, the supportive environment and space to get unbiased advice has been beneficial to those that have engaged in the process. 

Building momemtum, creating networks and providing shared learning are fundamentals pillars of the Sustain alliance. As a sector we acknowledge that a lot more must be done to create a diverse, equitable and - most importantly - anti-racist sector and that work must start internally for most organisations. By working towards a shared vision as a movement that provides opportunities for open and brave dialogue and peer support we can make more meaningful progress than going it alone. 

In the peer group, members are invited to share an issue or challenge that they individually or as an organisation has faced relating to diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racism. For example recruitment, training, staff engagement, campaigning and much more. The rest of the group pose reflective questions that support the issue holder to come to a solution. 

An example issue that was brought to the group was of an organisation’s internal DEI group losing momentum and essentially halting. Did this mean that people thought all the work was done? What could reinvigorate it and centre this work? The group queried the outputs of the group, how ‘success’ was being measured, how it is funded and supported, and who does not have a seat at the table, amongst other questions. At the following meeting the issue holder reported that they’d raised the role and function of the group at a wider staff meeting and explored some of the issues the group faced. By addressing these head on the organisation was able to make tangible decisions to create a pathway for a purposeful, invigorated group to move forward.

The cross-sector peer group acts as a sounding board where one might not exist for organisations internally and can act as an unbiased and honest source of support. By creating momentum as a movement and acknowledging that no organisation or individual should be alone in centring racial justice and diversity we can move to a place where this work is central to all organisations and roles and is not just the responsibility of DEI professionals or racialised staff. 

Some of the organisations involved are particularly small and do not have much resource in this area but do have the passion and commitment to make a change. A space to share issues as well as resources, information and updates, enables them to take broader steps towards embedding justice and equity in their work. 

If you work in a sustainable food and farming organisation and would be interested in joining the group please email Sareta Puri, Diversity Outreach Coordinator, Sustain:

Published Thursday 2 May 2024

Roots to Work: Roots to Work is a platform for people to advertise and find jobs in the field of good food. We noticed there wasn’t a unique gathering place for good food opportunities to all sit together and felt it was time to make it happen in the UK.

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Sareta coordinates Sustain's diversity outreach work which aims to bring more people from underrepresented backgrounds, with specific focus on ethnic diversity, into the progressive food and farming sector. A core part of this work is outreach with younger people and students to inspire them to get involved in the movement. She manages Sustain’s Roots to Work jobs platform which is also a tool to engage new and diverse talent into the sector.

Sareta Puri
Diversity Outreach Coordinator

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