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Elevating Equity

Barriers and Enablers for Racialized Women in Climate Action Leadership
A diverse group of five people are engaged in a discussion in a modern office setting. One person is holding a clipboard and speaking, while the others listen attentively. The team appears to be collaborating on a climate change project, surrounded by office equipment and natural light, exemplifying leadership.

Research Overview

Funded by the Toronto Workforce Funder Collaborative, this research seeks to identify the barriers and enablers that hinder and support the entry and advancement of mid-career racialized women, non-binary, and trans-femme individuals in climate action leadership careers across Canada.

Intended outcomes for this project include a story repository that showcases policies and practices that sustain these individuals in their work and offers recommendations from a systems-change perspective, with the goal of enabling deeper support and opportunities for racialized women, non-binary, and trans-femme individuals in climate action leadership roles.


Research Findings & Recommendations

Over the past year, ASI embarked on a research project to identify the barriers and enablers that affect the entry and advancement of mid-career racialized women, non-binary, and trans-femme individuals aged 30-49 in climate action leadership careers.

Supported by the Toronto Workforce Funder Collaborative and led by researcher Shagufta Pasta, we will present our findings and recommendations on September 9, 2024, from 12 – 1 p.m. PT.

This webinar is free for anyone interested in attending.

Two women are smiling in an office setting. One wears glasses, a beige blazer, and orange pants and stands with hands behind her back. The other, with long hair, wears a white blouse and tan pants and is seated with a tablet on her lap. They stand in front of a gray wall.

About the Project

While progress has been made in integrating equity and inclusion into climate action and sustainability efforts, the field of sustainability practitioners in Canada remains predominantly homogeneous, with a majority of professionals being white and middle-class. This lack of diversity hinders the comprehensive and inclusive approach needed to address the complexities of climate change. ¹

Entry & Advancement Barriers

Entry and advancement barriers experienced by racialized workers in their sustainability careers include:

  • A lack of inclusive networking spaces.
  • A lack of equitable recruitment practices.
  • Insufficient employer readiness for increased staff diversity.
  • The implicit demographic bias within the sustainability sector.
  • Uncompensated labour expectations to lead, guide or support equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives within their organization.
  • A lack of mental health support for racialized people to navigate the “occasional and endemic toxicity” they experience from their colleagues. ²

Addressing Gaps

Addressing these gaps is the work of the dominant sustainability sector.

It requires centering the holistic wellbeing of racialized workers through specific mental health supports, examining recruitment processes and doing deep personal and organizational reckoning on whether an organization is ready for increased diversity.

It also requires listening to racialized workers about their needs, offering useful training opportunities and creating space for different ways of knowing and expertise that differ from dominant “Western and North American perspectives on climate science.” ³

¹ UNFCCC, 2022, Diversity Institute and FSC, 2022, Diversity in Sustainability, 2021

² Vancouver Economic Commission, 2023, Diversity in Sustainability, 2021

³ Vancouver Economic Commission, 2023

Intended Outcomes

To build on existing research, we hope to highlight the climate action work women of colour, non-binary, and trans-femme individuals are doing in Canada and the policies, practices and programs that support and enable their leadership.

Outcomes from this project are emergent and will develop in conjunction with research participants. Intended outcomes include:

Get in Touch with the Team

This project is resourced by the following team. 

To learn more about the project and to get in touch, please contact Shagufta Pasta, Lead Researcher.

Shagufta Pasta

Lead Researcher

Tamara Connell


Funded by: