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Sustain's commitment to recruiting for diversity

Diversity matters to us. Sustain has a working environment where we value and respect every individual's unique contribution. Diversity helps us identify where change is needed and what is required to promote equity as well as reflect the concerns of our wide alliance of members. 

A list of Sustain’s policies, including our commitment to diversity are on our website. Our approach to recruiting for diversity is described in detail below. 

Sustain is committed to equality of opportunity and welcome applications from individuals, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, socio-economic background, religion and/or belief. We are happy to discuss and consider flexible working at the point of hire. 

We particularly encourage applications from those from ethnic minority backgrounds, people with diverse sexual and gender identities and people with disabilities. This is because these groups are currently underrepresented at Sustain. As part of the recruitment process, where two or more candidates are judged to be of equal merit, priority may be given to a candidate who belongs to a group less represented at Sustain.

Unless there is an exceptional reason not to do so, Sustain recruits for roles as part of our Ethnicity Confident and Disability Confident schemes. This means that applicants who meet all of the essential criteria, and who let us know voluntarily that you would like to be considered in this way, will be guaranteed a first-stage interview. The opportunity to tell us you would like to be considered din this way is included in our Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form, which is part of the application process.

All members of staff are expected to contribute to the mutually supportive culture of Sustain (including staff and project participants) in which equality and diversity are not just respected but promoted. 

Visit our website here for some useful advice if you are applying for a job at Sustain.

Our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion

Sustain strives to be an equal opportunities employer; an organisation that recognises our privilege and uses it to promote racial justice in the food and farming system; and not to discriminate against people on the basis of personal characteristics or background. We see diversity as a strength and something to benefit from and celebrate. We would like everyone to feel welcome, to feel confident to apply for suitable opportunities, and to find ways to participate.

We are proactively working on a range of actions to improve representation of diversity on Sustain’s team of staff and trustees, welcoming people who identify as having protected characteristics, including people from diverse ethnic backgrounds and people with other personal characteristics currently under-represented on Sustain's staff team.

Read Sustain's progress report on diversity and anti-racism, setting out what we are doing to improve diversity, equalities and inclusion, and to promote racial justice: publication download (December 2021)

As you are viewing this via Sustain’s Jobs page, we want you to know that we are working to improve our recruitment processes to make it possible for more people from diverse backgrounds to gain employment, positions of responsibility and other experiences at Sustain and via our networks. We are committed to taking proactive action to overcome barriers to participation. Please do apply to work with us.

From 2022 onwards, Sustain is participating in The RACE Report. This will benchmark charities in the environment sector on ethnic diversity issues in relation to staff, trustees and employment policies and practices.  

If there’s a way you think we could improve our recruitment processes and opportunities, or if you know of examples of good practice that we could learn from, please do let us know. We will welcome suggestions and our staff group tasked with implementing actions to improve diversity promise to consider them and to respond constructively: send us an email.

Here are some of the ways Sustain works in relation to recruitment and employment practices; the actions we have already taken, and what we plan to do next to cultivate greater fairness and diversity.

What we do now

Guaranteed interviews 

Sustain applies the Disability Confident scheme. This means that during the recruitment process, applicants with a disability (a protected characteristic under equalities law) who meet the essential criteria for a role will be guaranteed a first-stage interview if they let us know voluntarily that they would like to be considered in this way. We provide a form to enable people to do this as part of the application process. 

In 2022, Sustain launched the Ethnicity Confident scheme. This means that during the recruitment process, applicants who from ethnic minorities (a protected characteristic under equalities law) who meet the essential criteria for a role will be guaranteed a first-stage interview if they let us know voluntarily that they would like to be considered in this way. We provide a form to enable people to do this as part of the application process, and to identify in the way they would prefer.

All candidates, whether they have made such a declaration or not, are asked if there are any reasonable adjustments that Sustain can make to enable people to feel comfortable and able to participate fully. 

Operating a fair and transparent salary scale

Sustain operates a fixed salary scale, organised in four bands: project officer, project coordinator, senior management and chief executive. This provides a fair and transparent method of remuneration and avoids the disparities that we observe can emerge in other organisations when individuals negotiate salaries that are higher than those of peers in similar roles, whilst others may not have the confidence to negotiate. Sustain salaries incorporate a London weighting and increase with annual increments, until the top of a band has been reached. Our inflationary increase is based on RPI (not CPI), to recognise the higher cost of housing in London. The salary scale is set and overseen by Sustain’s Council of Trustees.

Treating freelancers fairly

Occasionally, Sustain employs people on freelance or consultancy contracts. As a registered Living Wage Employer, we endeavour to ensure through our contracts that everyone involved in providing such services are adequately paid, certainly at no less than the Living Wage or London Living Wage.

Freelance rates are offered in parity with our salary scale, including increments in parity with our salary scale for people providing freelance services over a longer period.

Sustain also employs some independent consultants, either as individuals or organisations.

Pay ratio monitoring

Sustain monitors and reports annually on our pay ratio, ensuring that the gap between the highest and lowest paid in our organisation keeps well within sensible benchmark limit set by Wagemark, which is a ratio of 8:1. Our pay ratio for staff employed directly by Sustain is 2:1, well below the third-sector average. We also benchmark this against the London Living Wage, which shows a ratio of 3:1 for services sub-contracted by our landlord such as office cleaning. Our landlord is the Ethical Property Company, which is also a registered Living Wage Employer.

Additionally, Sustain has no hidden bonuses, hidden remuneration or expense accounts that might boost incomes or financial rewards and disparities through indirect means.

Living Wage Employer

Sustain is a registered Living Wage Employer, promising to pay employees and interns at least the London Living Wage. Our landlord is the Ethical Property Company, so cleaning and ancillary staff are also included, and our pay ratio is calculated in relation to the London Living Wage.

Paid internships

Sustain occasionally offers paid internship opportunities via schemes run by other organisations (most recently the EcoTalent scheme run by Feedback - although this is no longer open to applications). We are looking into whether we can secure funding and capacity to enable more of such opportunities in future.

Promoting wider opportunities

Sustain runs the Roots to Work service, promoting a wide range of jobs and other opportunities in the food, farming and environmental movement. We hope this service will help more people find their place in the field of good food. Please do promote your jobs here, search for opportunities and get on the Roots to Work mailing for updates.

Publishing advice

When we identify barriers to participation, we publish advice to help people overcome them. Here is our advice on applying for a job at Sustain or elsewhere, addressing common reasons why applicants for jobs at Sustain do not get shortlisted. We hope to share insights into how charities and third-sector organisations shortlist applications, to help people who may not be familiar with how this is done, to improve people's chances of success. 

Culture of respect for diversity

To support equal opportunities and diversity during the recruitment process, we:

  • Treat everyone as equals, with courtesy and respect.
  • Do not require degree-level qualifications unless the role makes this essential (which in practice is only very rarely).
  • Recognise and value the work experience and life experience of candidates.
  • Run interviews in a way designed to get the best out of people, not to trip them up.
  • Run two-stage interviews to enable more people to get a chance to meet Sustain staff in person.
  • Usually run interviews that involve a prepared task to allow people to shine in a range of ways.
  • Show the salary clearly in the job advertisement, plus other employment benefits.
  • Do not ask interview candidates what their current salary is.
  • Offer supportive induction and flexible working arrangements.
  • Provide a programme of staff training, skills-shares, peer groups and other support and learning opportunities on a range of issues and skills identified by the staff team as useful for personal, project and professional development.
  • When writing or speaking about, portraying or providing a platform for diversity, we follow Sustain's Diversity Style Guide to ensure consistency of approach, and due regard for the language and imagery that will demonstrate that diversity is respected and welcome.

Sustain is a signatory to the Show the Salary charity pledge, to embed some of our current practices in policy, and to promote these to our networks.

We also committed to support and training for the staff team to enable all Sustain projects and campaigns to identify priorities for action to involve people from diverse backgrounds.

We allocate budget and staff time to enable the changes outlined above. We commit to continuous improvement, remaining open to change, and open to ideas, challenges and constructive criticism. We monitor and report on our progress; learn by doing; are not be afraid to try things out or get things wrong; and we aim to learn from our mistakes.

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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