My name is Lila Buckingham (she/her) and I am the equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) officer for The Seabird Group, a charity based in the UK and Ireland who promote and help coordinate the study and conservation of seabirds. The Seabird Group, like many other ecology organisations, has historically been a very white, cis-gendered, straight, male environment. This is beginning to change, as we now have an improved mix of genders, but we still face a wide suite of issues, particularly our lack of ethnic diversity, as well as poor inclusion and equality for some marginalised groups.
I joined The Seabird Group’s committee as their first EDI officer just under a year ago, and since then I have been busy planning what I want to achieve over the next few years to improve EDI within The Seabird Group. Our first goal was to gather views and ideas from our members and beyond, to find out how we might better support individuals from a range of backgrounds and identities within the “seabirding” community. So far, we have run working groups focussing on issues surrounding EDI with regards to LGBTQ+ status, ethnicity, and gender, and will be continuing with a group focussing on disability in the new year. In addition, we have met with several other organisations (such as Pacific Seabird Group, JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), and BTO (British Trust for Ornithology)) to share thoughts, ideas and initiatives. Subsequently, we wrote an EDI Action Plan and presented this at the World Seabird Twitter Conference 7 (WSTC7).
Since creating our action plan, we have been working through our action points. Our Twitter and Facebook accounts (both @TheSeabirdGroup and run by Ruth Dunn and Kirsty Franklin) do a great job at celebrating diversity and promoting inclusiveness for seabirders from all backgrounds and identities, so I encourage you to give us a follow. In addition, following the highly successful Twitter hashtag #PolarPride, which was created to increase visibility and celebrate LGBTQ+ people working in polar regions, we created the hashtag #SeabirdPride, to celebrate LGBTQ+ seabirders. Our membership secretary (Danni Thompson) has expanded our online shop, which sells clothing with beautiful seabird-related designs, to include an LGBTQ+ range. Our Pride t-shirts have raised over £240 for LGBTQ+ STEM, an organisation that aims to increase visibility of LGBTQ+ people within STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering & maths).
We are currently busy planning for our 2022 conference in Cork, where we hope to have affordable online access options and an EDI workshop. Finally, we are soon launching a new training grant to support people, particularly from marginalised groups, to gain valuable seabird field experience. Seabird fieldwork can be extremely expensive, so we hope that this grant will open doors for people that may not otherwise be able to afford it.
If you have any feedback for what you think we are doing well or how we might improve, or you would like to get involved with our EDI work, we would love to hear from you. You can contact me on edi [at] seabirdgroup.org.uk or get in touch with any of our social media accounts.
Razorbills (Alca torda) © jon57 CCO Pixabay.
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