What does Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Mean in Conservation?

Susan M Cheyne Borneo Nature Foundation International Oxford Brookes University, UK
What does Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Mean in Conservation?

As conservationists we should be committed to the advancement of equality, diversity and inclusion, seeking through policies and actions, to be a genuinely inclusive group of diverse people. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) draws for this on good practice throughout the higher education sector and wider economy with a view to integrating the principles of equal treatment and the promotion of diversity and is something we as conservationists can learn from. Equal treatment involves much more than simply treating everyone alike; it requires a recognition that some groups and individuals have particular and specific needs that need to be met if they are to enjoy equal access to the services offered by the University. We recognise that the conservation community may need to provide its services in a range of different or more flexible ways, in order to ensure genuine equality of access or opportunity for groups and individuals who approach this field from a position of persistent and longstanding disadvantage. Valuing diversity involves an acknowledgement of the benefits and intrinsic worth derived from the range of difference within our community, and fostering it as a strength. We aim to celebrate and to value the differences between individuals’ cultural, social and intellectual contribution to the conservation community and will seek to promote greater mutual understanding between groups and individuals who reflect these differences; and will seek to use the talents and experiences that each and every individual can bring to the institution. Inclusion involves the conservation community and its staff designing and operating flexible services, practices and procedures that take appropriate account of the needs of students, staff and visitors.

We recognise that equality issues are complex but unfair discrimination can be based on the grounds of:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Ethnicity (including race, colour and nationality)
  • Gender
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage or civil partnership
  • Pregnancy or maternity
  • Religion, belief
  • Sexual orientation (Cheyne, 2019)
  • Work-life balance
  • Economic background
  • Language

The conservation community is a large and functionally diverse group operating in a local, national and international context. We expect all staff, students, visitors, partners and contractors to behave in accordance with this policy and to have regard for the values of EDI. The principles of equality, diversity and inclusion apply to the way in which conservation community members should treat each other, and to all visitors, contractors, sub-contractors, service providers, suppliers, former staff and students and any other persons associated with the functions of the community. However, it is acknowledged that some of the international contexts in which the conservation community operates may place restrictions on the extent to which this policy can govern the practices of partners and contractors.

The concept of EDI is to drive forward the cultural and systemic changes needed if institutions, organisations, NGO’s, universities, companies, governments are to remain competitive and attractive to talented staff and potential students in a global market (Brennan, 2008).


Brennan, J. (2008). Higher education and social change. Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734...

Cheyne, S. M. (2019). Being ``Out’’ in the Field: Who Is Responsible for Health and Safety? International Journal of Primatology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764...