Four steps we can take for a more equal, diverse and inclusive Green Party
Ria Patel and Kelsey Trevett are standing in the by-election for the Green Party’s equality and diversity coordinator. This article is published as part of their campaign. Voting is open to party members until 31 October. The other candidate in the election is Kefentse Dennis.
“There is no environmental justice without social, racial, and economic justice.” Anyone who was at Green Party Conference earlier this month, or who has heard Deputy Leader Zack Polanski address Conference before, will recognise this phrase – and for good reason. The Green Party’s commitment to treating social and climate justice as intrinsically linked is central to our vision for a society which centres both people and planet, and has guided our response most recently to the cost of inequality crisis.
For this recognition to run deeper than rhetoric, we must ensure that our own house is in order, and that the Green Party is a space where equality is celebrated, diversity is embraced, and marginalisation is challenged. As organisers, we know that there is a long way to go before the Green Party lives up to this ambition: our experience of pushing for steps towards equity and liberation within and beyond our party has shown us what is possible when traditionally marginalised groups are empowered and given the space for intersectional collaboration. We have an exciting opportunity to take huge steps forward towards a party in which radical social justice thrives at every level.
We have four steps towards a more equal, diverse and inclusive Green Party of England and Wales.
1. Make the Green Party a safe space
Safety for members of marginalised groups within our party is the absolute minimum we should expect. Ensuring that all members feel safe to engage and contribute at all levels of the Green Party without risk of discrimination, hate, or hostility has never been more crucial, and represents a fundamental foundation of a party committed to promoting social justice. Important steps are being taken towards making this a reality, including the Regional Council’s addition of queerphobia and antisemitism guidance to the Framework for Ethics and Conduct.
On top of this, we must implement an updated comprehensive safe spaces policy for all Green Party events, designed by marginalised communities, which takes a zero-tolerance approach to discriminatory behaviour. There are countless benefits to a party where diversity thrives: more informed policy, a deeper understanding of lived experiences — but first and foremost, nobody should feel afraid or unsafe in the Green Party, as a matter of principle.
2. Expand our understanding of protected characteristics
The Green Party has a proud history of standing up for those who have one of the nine protected characteristics as set out in the Equality Act 2010. However, we also have a track record of recognising that these protected characteristics do not represent an exhaustive list, and that we must go further in our organising in order to strive for meaningful equality.
Socioeconomic background, care experience, and a broader understanding of disability than that captured by one which includes only those with a medical diagnosis are all examples of the considerations we must hold when we implement steps towards a more equal and inclusive party. Working with local parties, liberation groups, and leadership to tackle barriers to participation for these groups has a direct impact on the diversity of candidates we stand, and on the development of external policy which strengthens our stance on equality, diversity, and our manifesto for 2024 and beyond.
3. Putting racial justice at the heart of the Green Party
The Green Party remains unrepresentative of England and Wales, remaining predominantly white. Across our party, Greens of Colour are doing fantastic work, organising for change within our party, and representing their local communities as elected councillors. Still, as a party, we have a huge responsibility to improve the racial diversity of our membership, and to effectively represent communities when elected.
From designing training initiatives for those from minority ethnic backgrounds, to creating candidate selection processes which prioritise diversity and community representation, there are many actions we can and must take to demonstrate that our commitment to racial justice starts at home. LGBTIQA+ Greens are one liberation group who have piloted a successful programme of local party engagement and training on tackling queerphobia, demonstrating a model for future work on reaching out to the global majority, and creating an inclusive organising space for them to contribute and grow as activists.
However, the burden cannot fall solely on liberation groups and this must be prioritised nationally: we are excited and ready to work closely with Greens of Colour, the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion officer and the Association of Green Councillors to ensure the responsibility is on all of us, at every level, to take these steps forward.
4. Centre liberation groups in implementing the Diverse Matters report
In 2022, the Green Party Executive commissioned an equity, equality, diversity, and inclusion audit of our party, the results of which were set out in a host of recommendations as part of the final report from Diverse Matters. Implementing these recommendations at every level of our party, from the grassroots, to local, regional, and national bodies, is vital to taking meaningful action towards an inclusive and diverse organising space.
At the very heart of this work must be the communities most affected: ensuring that our liberation groups are key stakeholders in the formulation and delivery of the Diverse Matters recommendations is vital. Their voices, experiences, and needs must sit at the heart of our next steps.
In practice, this means affording their elected representatives votes in decisions on the delivery of this work, and facilitating regular forums for the development of ideas and initiatives. This should not be conflated with placing the burden of responsibility on liberation groups: we know that far too often, marginalised communities are left to educate and defend their rights in an increasingly hostile environment without support. To empower our liberation groups to steer the work, with the support of the new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion staff member, and strong leadership, is to support them in positioning liberation as a central tenet of our party.
These steps are by no means exhaustive. To claim to dilute equality and diversity into a four-point list would inevitably be reductive: however, we think these represent four clear actions which, collectively, are huge strides forward in our party’s mission to put social justice at the heart of our organising, starting at home. They will put our party in a strong position to celebrate diversity, and to engage with the millions of people in the UK desperate for a party to stand with them: for environmental, social, racial, and economic justice. With rising tides of racism, transphobia, misogyny, and other forms of discrimination, fuelled by the Conservative government and at best unopposed by Labour, our solidarity with marginalised communities has never been more necessary — solidarity which manifests not just in words, but in actions.
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Image credit: Matthew Philip Long – Creative Commons