Nature is for all

The Black Lives Matter demonstrations have challenged us all to think more deeply about racism. Francesca Osowska, CEO of Scottish Natural Heritage, says that as we are called on to reimagine a better future after the pandemic, it is vital that we build back better for everyone.

Francesca Osowska Chief Executive Scottish Natural Heritage ©Lorne Gill SNH 2

The demonstrations demand that organisations reflect and consider what they can do to help address the issue. This has also prompted more active discussion within Scottish Natural Heritage.

Nature is vital to all of us, so it is vital that we are an organisation for all of Scotland. The more diverse SNH is, the better we will be in connecting everyone with nature.

But we are not a diverse organisation. And our recent equalities report highlighted an unconscious bias in some of the ways we operate. This is something we have begun to address but we need to do more and listen to what communities need.

Are we confident we are taking into account all communities in our work? What more can we do to ensure black and minority ethnic (BAME) people benefit from what nature brings?

We are developing training in a bid to integrating equality into our day to day work and projects.  And we are reviewing our hiring strategies to make them as inclusive as possible. We are looking at the pathways into our organisation. Some of our volunteers go on to become part of our staff but we need to recognise that only a very small proportion of people can afford to work free of pay for months. So we want to introduce work placements.

We work in partnership with organisations aimed at engaging with more people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. I know we can do more. I want to help those groups get their voices heard to help influence the agenda.

I’m keen to keep up the momentum and discussion we have seen to help us become a more diverse and inclusive organisation to ensure that nature is for everyone in Scotland.

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