Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Find out how Kew is embracing diversity and building an inclusive environment for all.

The Palm House at Kew Gardens

In 2021 RBG Kew released its 10 year Manifesto for Change strategy laying out a vision of a world where plants and fungi are understood, valued and conserved by a wide range of people. To achieve this, we need to work to become an organisation that embraces diversity and creates an inclusive environment within which a diverse range of people may work and thrive. 

Our history, location and how we work have shown that difference can bring great benefits. 

Our vision for diversity and inclusion is one of the six strategic priorities set out in our People and Culture Strategy: ‘Diversity and Inclusion of our people and audiences is embedded in everything we do, is valued and respected by all and becomes part of our everyday.’ 

Kew’s current Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy spans four years from 2020 to 2024 and is internally focused, delivered through a process of continuous improvement. This will be followed by improvements to the diversity and inclusion of constituent groups external to Kew from 2024 to 2027, addressing the needs of our visitors, members, friends and other external stakeholders. 

Director of Kew Richard Deverell says, 'I’d like to reaffirm Kew’s commitment to becoming an organisation where there is not only equality of opportunity, but one that truly embraces diversity and creates an inclusive environment within which people may thrive. We must of course fulfil our legal responsibilities and believe that everyone should have a right to equal access to employment, training and development and have the right to be free of any direct or indirect discrimination, harassment or bullying.

Our people

RBG Kew has recently kicked off a more dedicated focus on its journey around equality, diversity, and inclusion.

We recognise and uphold our duties under the Equality Act 2010, and will work to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between groups with protected characteristics.

As part of this commitment, we have started to better understand both our workforce diversity profile and visitor demographics. We will ensure this information is available and updated publicly moving forward.

Workforce Diversity Profile

As of 3 October 2022, RBG Kew employs 1228 staff members in the UK, as well as 52 staff members in Madagascar.

Based on our most recent diversity dashboard which is updated annually in June, we know the following about our workforce:

Percentage of the workforce by ethnicity

  • 6% Asian
  • 1% Black
  • 5% Mixed
  • 1% Other
  • 83% White

Percentage of the workforce who identify as disabled or neurodivergent

  • 8% Disabled/Neurodivergent

Percentage of the workforce who identify as LGBTQIA+

  • 1% Lesbian
  • 3% Gay
  • 6% Bisexual
  • 2% Other

Percentage of the workforce by gender

  • 38% Male
  • 62% Female

Percentage of the workforce who identify as trans/nonbinary

  • 2% Trans/Nonbinary

Percentage of the workforce by religion

  • 4% Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Any other religion
  • 1% Muslim
  • 25% Christian
  • 59% No religion

Percentage of the workforce by socioeconomic background

  • 21% Lower socioeconomic background
  • 12% Intermediate background
  • 52% Professional background

Visitor Demographics

According to data collected from April 2021 to March 2022, we have the following understanding of our visitor demographics:

Visitor demographics by age

  • 8% 17-29
  • 27% 30-49
  • 46% 50-69
  • 19% 70+

Visitor demographics by gender

  • 27% Male
  • 72% Female

Visitor demographics by ethnicity

  • 91% White
  • 3% Mixed/multiple ethnic groups
  • 4% Asian
  • 1% Black
  • 1% Other

Visitor demographics by social grade (classification system based on main income earner's occupation in household)

  • 62% ABC1 (managerial, administrative, professional and clerical occupations)
  • 33% C2DE (skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers; pensioners, casual, or junior occupations; students or the unemployed)
  • 6% Prefer not to say

Future goals

We are also seeking to do the following: 

  • Understand our differences and build mechanisms for inclusion. 

  • Conduct periodic culture audits and staff surveys. 

  • Regularly review and update our workforce policies to ensure equality, diversity and inclusion is accounted for and embedded. 

  • Review and monitor recruitment and selection. 

  • Ensure equal opportunity in development and reward. 

  • Have a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and discrimination. 

  • Implement training/learning interventions for leaders/managers and staff. 

  • Introduce and support staff networks. 

Our organisation 

RBG Kew’s vision for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) involves:  

  • Instigating an EDI Committee, led by a nominated member of the Executive Board, and chaired by a Trustee. 

  • Demonstrating a commitment to providing accessible buildings, landscape and facilities. 

  • Setting and reinforcing clear standards of acceptable behaviour. 

  • Practicing responsible procurement. 

  • Improving accessibility via our digital channels.  

  • Ensuring we comply with our legislative obligations. 

  • Working with other organisations to identify best practice. 

  • Aligning the EDI strategy delivery with Kew’s work to shift perceptions of the institution to reflect its modern purpose and mission.

  • Adopting pertinent external accreditations. 

We acknowledge there are disparities in representation amongst both our workforce and our visitors.

As part of our commitment to ensure equality of opportunity for groups with protected characteristics and to foster good relations between different groups, we are committed to the following equality objectives:

  • RBG Kew will improve the diversity of our workforce, focusing specifically on our areas of greatest disparity — improving the diversity of colleagues from ethnic minority backgrounds and colleagues with a disability. By 2024, our aim is to have representation in our workforce that is more reflective of the population with 8% of Asian staff, 3% of Black staff and 10% of staff with a disability/neurodivergence.
  • RBG Kew will work to increase the number of visitors to Kew Gardens and Wakehurst from under-represented communities to 28,600 visitors in 2022/23.

To achieve these objectives, we have both an internally focused EDI Delivery Plan as well as an Outreach strategy which include actions such as:

  • supporting all line managers with inclusive leadership training to ensure we understand the meaning and value of inclusive behaviour internally and externally
  • reviewing all of our recruitment practices to ensure inclusivity and diversity are central to how we train hiring managers and how our process looks
  • ensuring vibrant and effective staff inclusion networks have the ability to thrive at Kew and are supported to create change
  • continually improving our quantitative diversity data collection and include new forms of qualitative data collection

These objectives will be revisited upon the next iteration of our EDI strategy in 2024.

Our progress to date 

We have increased the quantity and the quality of diversity data we collect, which is bringing clarity about our areas of disparity. 

We have created five new staff networks where staff can go to discuss problems they have encountered, find solutions through the experiences of others, and feel more connected to their colleagues across the organisation. We have a system of governance in place through the Trustee-chaired EDI committee as well as a monthly meeting of co-chairs. 

Our future plans

We will continue our focus on our people and organisation until 2024, beyond that we will expand the focus to external audiences, visitors and more. 

We have signed up to the Athena Swan Charter, a global framework to support and transform gender equality within higher education and research, and have achieved the Athena Swan Bronze Award.

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