Jenny Tan helps environmental organisations of all types—corporations, non-profits, and government agencies—communicate across cultures. If the membership of Divest Barnard reflects the overall lack of racial diversity in national environmental advocacy, are environmental studies departments at Columbia and Barnard less diverse as well? For example, in 2015, 73.4 percent of people who were awarded environmental science degrees across the country were white. Workplace diversity is an especially beneficial asset for attracting top talent from diverse talent pools. As a member of Columbia Divest for Climate Justice, which she claims is becoming more racially diverse, Platzer attributes the lack of diversity in environmental NGOs to two main reasons. Understanding more the dimension of cultural diversity. For example, on the first day of her Fundamentals of Global Health class, the hairs on her arms were on end as her professors—two white women—discussed what she perceived as “white savior” solutions to hardships people face in small African villages. This whitewashing expands beyond the realm of environmental sciences. For people of color, “there’s so many other inequalities that have major impacts on your day-to-day that have to be addressed first before you can even stop and think about, ‘Oh, how do I improve the Earth?’” Reynolds says. Benesch aims to help address this lack of indigenous voices in environmental movements and narratives as editor-in-chief of Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development. She shares with me a message that director of Honor the Earth and member of the Ojibwe tribe Tara Zhaabowekwe Houska wrote for allies of indigenous environmental justice. Diversity and equality in a work environment can foster out-of-the-box thinking which can generate fresh and innovative ideas to help set your business apart from the competition. Platzer’s vision goes even further than community empowerment, claiming that the entire philosophy of sustainability needs to shift as well. Wild salmon are crucial to our ecosystem—and pretty tasty, too. Save the pandas. The STaTe of DiverSiTy in environmenTal organizaTionS execuTive Summary page 7 ii. Host Daniel Raimi talks with Professor Dorceta Taylor of the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. Reynolds stresses that in environmental engineering, there is little focus on the social aspects behind the problems engineers work to solve, which is why she believes there are so few students of color within the discipline. “It’s domestic, internal colonialism. 1) Talents, skills, and experiences Individuals from diverse backgrounds can offer a selection of different talents, skills, and experiences, that may be of benefit to the organization and their work performance. All rights reserved. As one of the only black students in her year of her major, she is used to being a visible minority in the discipline. I also like warm showers and nights in the city. Environmental impacts are as global as carbon footprint and as local as litter in our neighborhoods. She notices the importance of empowering indigenous roles, and believes Consilience can be a platform to expand the discourse surrounding sustainable development. In 2014, a report produced by Green 2.0, an organization that brings attention to the lack of diversity in mainstream environmental movements, conducted a survey of the country’s 40 largest environmental NGOs, including the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club. Mishra views the decision to go into environmental disciplines and movements as a matter of economic privilege. The survey found that, on average, people of color made up 27 percent of full-time staff and 14 percent of senior staff, which is overall less racially diverse than other areas of the private sector. The environmental movement is woefully homogenous. When Jenny’s not coming up with solutions to increase the effectiveness of environmental organisations, you’ll find her frolicking in the natural abundance of BC. “Remember that indigenous peoples have been left out of the conversation and it is only because of our resilience and connection to the land that we are now in this place.”. It doesn’t make logical sense that conservation of our standard of living in the […], The environment-economy dichotomy dominates all climate discussions. Environmentalism or environmental rights is a broad philosophy, ideology, and social movement regarding concerns for environmental protection and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the impact of changes to the environment on humans, animals, plants and non-living matter. Elsie Platzer, a sophomore at Columbia College majoring in ecology, evolution, and environmental biology and in creative writing, sits in her environmental biology class on a dreary Thursday afternoon. 490 Riverside Drive, Rm 414, New York, NY 10027. Stop to think about that for a second. A more detailed version of the diversity wheel . Related Journals of Environmental diversity Expert Opinion On Environmental Biology, Earth Science & Climatic Change, Ecosystem & Ecography, Geology & Geophysics, Journal of Industrial Pollution Control, Pollution Effects & Control A study by the University of Michigan found the percentage of staff who […], The climate conversation is stuck. It is the diversity of ecosystems, natural communities, and habitats. Although often used in tandem with diversity, inclusion is a concept of its own. As I speak with people of color about these issues of privilege and accessibility, we dissect the inherent power imbalances that they face in the environmental field. “My qualm with Divest [Barnard] is that it does tend to be predominantly white and white-passing students, especially at the forefront.”. This lack of diversity was evidently even more of an issue than I had thought, which is especially puzzling considering that climate change and environmental issues disproportionately affect people of color. If we look at it today, we're around 16 percent … That's the good news. Students of color in environmental disciplines face issues regarding the content of the coursework and the demographic makeup of their majors. The current focus on buying more energy-efficient light bulbs, for example, simply furthers consumerism, which is a major reason why climate change is an issue in the first place. I scrolled through faculty lists on the websites for Columbia’s Earth and Environmental Sciences, Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, and Sustainable Development departments, in addition to Barnard’s Environmental Science department, Columbia Engineering’s Earth and Environmental Engineering department, and the Earth Institute, searching for someone to talk to. Roundtree concedes that these mainstream environmental movements, like the NGOs in the Green 2.0 report, do a lot of important work, but are not as people-centric and community-centric as WE ACT. Platzer observes the Punnett square before her, on which the examples of skin color are varying shades of white. Her background in sustainability includes working with non-traditional allies to promote old-growth forest conservation, producing podcasts on sustainability, and delivering bike mechanics workshops to women and people of colour. Benesch has noticed that, in the past, the journal has been economically focused, and she aims to broaden the journal’s horizons by adding more indigenous perspectives to the discussion. This is a very interesting question, and I wish I knew the exact reason so I could come up with the magic solution, but I … Tropical or temperate forests, grasslands, hot and cold deserts, wetlands, rivers, mountains, and coral reefs are instances of ecosystem diversity. Platzer tells me that this instance is “reflective of the whiteness of the scientific community at large, and how they silence the voices of people of color and other marginalized groups within these disciplines.” Statistically, there are quantifiably more people of color in the world than there are white people. Here are a few of the top benefits or diversity in the workplace. Platzer advocates for the focus to be shifted to the oppressive systems, such as mass consumerism and political power, that exacerbate climate change, and how low-income people of color are also bound to these systems. In early October, Barnard Student Government Association Vice President for Policy Alicia Simba expressed this concern at a Barnard SGA meeting with Divest Barnard, which spurred a discussion about the lack of diversity in the activist group. 6 behaviours to implement that unlock innovation and promote equality. The environmental sciences lack diversity — and that leaves holes in our understanding of health. This results in “no connection between an environmental paradigm and their lives.”. Similarly, more than two thirds of the organizations indicated that training programs for minority and low-in - come residents should be developed, but less than 45% of the organizations would support such training In the past, Benesch notes, “there has been a total exclusion of people of color, especially black and indigenous people, from any discussion about environmental [issues].”. There are so many ways diversity comes into the picture as we think about today’s businesses. As Benesch looks forward to the future of environmental advocacy, she believes that to build an intersectional web of activists and everyday people, and spur levels of participation, work must begin at the local level. One is the environmental movement’s advocacy of, as Platzer puts it, “Save the whales. In 2015, only 2.9 percent of students awarded a degree in environmental engineering nationwide were black. Environment diversity is a broad term which is divided into biomes, ecosystem and habitats which has their own uniques characteristics. In fact, the percent of environmental sector organizations reporting data on board racial diversity on Guidestar declined by more than 255% since 2014 (from 5.8% in 2014 to 2.2% in 2016). disproportionately affect people of color. Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Resources for Environmental Education Professionals and Students. Ambria Benesch, a junior at Barnard studying environmental policy and political science, has had a more typical experience working at an environmental group that is severely lacking in diversity. Diversity in the workplace boosts a company’s employer brand and presents a company as a more desirable place to work. Diversity in the environmental field has fallen behind diversity of the nation: “In 1990, when we looked at the major environmental organizations, less than 2 percent of the staff were people of color. A pathway for increasing diversity … Workplace diversity leads to better hiring results. WE ACT, headquartered in Harlem, is an advocacy group that campaigns to mobilize low-income communities of color in the environmental movement. West is an environmental anthropologist who has worked in Papua New Guinea for the past 20 years, where she works with the indigenous people of the region to study how European, American, and Australian conservation and development projects dispossess natives of their rights and sovereignty over land, labor, and natural resources. Platzer listens closely as her professor discusses genetic expressions and phenotypes versus genotypes. Speaking to her experience of having immigrant parents and being a first-generation student, she feels the pressure and responsibility to get a job post-graduation, which led her to also study economics. I like hiking. “In order to have productive environmental movements, they have to be community-focused and run by people within the community who are invested in the community,” Reynolds tells me, a lesson she learned after working at the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance one summer. “Too often, I face those who would speak over indigenous peoples, who believe they can advocate for our rights better than we can,” Houska writes. 1 on DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. The culinary delight that is wild salmon: podcast episodes Wild salmon are crucial to our ecosystem—and pretty tasty, too. Priya Mishra, a junior in Columbia College majoring in sustainable development and economics, discusses her experience as a woman of color in her classes. Of the 10 professors she has had for her sustainable development major, only one—her Principles of Economics professor—was not white or white-passing. I was met with white faces upon white faces, with very few people of color with whom I could speak. ... and attract additional talent interested in working in such an environment." I picked up a copy […]. Environmental racism, West explains, is a phenomenon that people of color in urban areas and in places of the world, like Papua New Guinea, have been discussing for a long time. Cultural Diversity in Companies . “We’re a very diverse organization ourselves, which is definitely not something that you see in environmental movements in general,” Roundtree says, explaining that the organization attempts to stray from the idea that “the environment is a playground for elites.”. For an organisation to reach its objectives and strategic goals, there is need to create a positive work environment where the similarities and differences of individuals are valued. Another reason, according to Platzer, is that many black and Latinx youth are raised in urban food deserts that lack greenspace and exposure to the natural world. An example of one of these traits is skin color. Alumni of our programs carry this work forward and out into their communities: they are the change agents and ambassadors of the changing face of environmentalism. The privilege one must possess to even focus on environmental issues is another major factor that contributes to the lack of racial diversity in these movements and disciplines. From the footprint of global supply chains to multinationals’ locations in communities around the world, companies are intrinsically linked to the people they employ and places in which they operate. diversity news. Referring to the days of Teddy Roosevelt’s conservation efforts, Roundtree reflects that this movement was established by “white people, white men in particular, to cordon off wild places for their enjoyment and exclusive enjoyment.”, Roundtree champions WE ACT’s racial diversity and leaders of color, although he can’t provide me with employment statistics. Copyright Spectator Publishing Company. Diversity in the workplace benefits.   Unfortunately, diversity is still very much lacking on its board. Roundtree also highlights the economic privilege of working in environmental movements, and advocates for a solution as simple as paying interns, which would make the field more accessible to low-income people of color. As issues regarding climate change and environmental racism are disproportionately led by white activists and scientists, there are students and faculty members of color who seek an intersectional future for the discipline. Platzer, who is Latinx and Jewish, was in awe that such a solid example of the whitewashing in her major took place about an hour before we spoke. Look at this tree, it’s so beautiful; don’t cut it down.” This massive focus on saving wildlife and conserving nature has made movements feel disconnected from the environmental injustice many people of color face. Underrepresented In 2014, Dorceta Taylor, a professor of environmental justice and food systems and the director of diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of Michigan's School for Environment and Sustainability, published a landmark study of racial diversity in green NGOs, government agencies and foundations. For now, students in environmental biology classes learn about polygenic traits through whitewashed Punnett squares; sustainable development majors grapple with the white savior nature of their coursework; and environmental engineers, scientists, and policymakers of color face each day as a token in the movement’s diversity pool. In other words, ecosystem diversity refers to the variety of ways that species interact with each other and their environment. Pick one, but not both, because you can’t have both. I raised this problem with Mishra, who was unable to help me. Workplace Diversity. In 2020, Marriott International was No. Diversity provides a bespoke environmental consultancy service enabling clients to fulfil their project aspirations whilst protecting and improving the natural environment. Barnard anthropology professor Paige West studies how these power dynamics have affected indigenous people on a global scale. Given the increasing diversity in North America, why do you think that there is such a lack of diverse leadership and staffing at organizations that protect our health and environment? Despite climate change being such a racialized issue, the number of people of color in environmental fields were few and far between. We believe that diversity strengthens and enriches our work and makes the environmental movement more relevant than ever. Scrolling through WE ACT’s team page, I am met with a flood of visible racial diversity—diversity I could not see when I chose to explore the executive teams of two other environmental NGOs, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club, at random. For a visual aid, the professor pulls up a Punnett square to demonstrate a polygenic trait, where genes have wide variability in expression. The study’s methods extended previous work by showing in-class diversity has a stronger impact on fairness and cross-race friendships than school-level diversity. That’s where my interest lies – let’s whip out the magnifying glass and probe this dichotomy. Stephan Roundtree, an environmental policy and advocacy coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, argues that environmental advocacy has been exclusive from its genesis. Jason Kawall - 1998 - The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 22:21-26. details It is commonplace to call for the protection of environmental diversity. Being a small independent company we're not driven by a need to generate work for a large number of staff but are able to focus on projects that have the objective of being socially and environmentally sustainable. Eleni Reynolds is a junior in the School of Engineering and Applied Science majoring in earth and environmental engineering. When I asked what inspired him to become a part of the environmental movement, he responded “It’s not so much about the environment as it is about survival for many of the people back home.” For myself as an Indian-American, going into the field, I expected more diversity in the work place, especially living in multi-cultural cities like Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA. She blames the lack of diversity on social power balances. But as Russell Kirk said, nothing is more conservative than conservation. As I spoke with students about the future of the environmental movement, this notion of community action and involvement arose frequently. While environmentalism focuses more on the environmental and nature-related aspects of green ideology and politics, ecology combines the ideology of social ecologyan… Out of the hundred people that were at the terminal, maybe 20 of us were people of colour or Indigenous. Through his work with the RAY Clean Energy Diversity Fellows, Charlie Espedido is helping to change the face of the movement and create pathways for young environmental leaders of color. As in other sectors of the nonprofit industry, Latino underrepresentation in the boardroom is attributed primarily to a lack of Latinos in the talent pipeline. Black, Hispanic, and Native American students and faculty are largely underrepresented in environmental engineering programs in the United States. Workplace diversity benefit #10: Improved hiring results. Each ecosystem corresponds to a series of complex relationships between biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) components. “I think that initial day is also kind of telling—that fear of, ‘I’m just going to be learning how to be a white savior’; that’s not what I came here for,” she adds. The academic journal, run by Columbia undergraduates, is an interdisciplinary journal that seeks to bring together a wide range of focuses on sustainable development. Graduate Workers Went on Strike Without Union Authorization. the colour in green diversity consultancy for environmental organisations We help environmental organisations recruit and retain diverse talent, diversify their leadership, and increase the effectiveness of their programs among audiences of colour. Have we been talking about climate in the wrong way. What Will That Mean for The Future of Labor Organizing? Jenny puts on her foodie hat and with the help of folks at the David Suzuki Foundation, produce two audio shorts on the culinary magic of wild salmon. She can converse passionately about the need for diversity in sustainability in three languages (and even when she stutters, she does it with passion). Environmental Diversity and the Value of the Unusual. Daniel asks Professor Taylor about her research on the history of the environmental movement, focusing on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion within environmental groups, both historically and today. “Since indigenous people and people living in urban areas have been faced with environmental challenges, they’ve realized that many of the mainstream movements don’t actually stop, step back, and see what matters to them,” West says. In almost every Western country, climate change has become a battle between the left and the right. “I wouldn’t say it was intimidating because they were all really nice people, but you feel like you’re a token sometimes,” Benesch emphasizes as she recounts her experience interning at the Illinois Environmental Council. Notable Quotes. However, in Platzer’s experiences, environmental science lectures and textbooks’ examples tend to focus on white skin. You’re identifying groups of people who have less power and you’re shifting burdens to them because they can’t stop you.”. And execs know a diverse workforce (in age, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, and gender) brings diverse viewpoints and perspectives to the company; these elements can help you develop great new … Or so they say. Aburi sushi, anyone? Turn off your lights. About the episodes For episode 1, Everything You Wanted to Know About Pacific Salmon, […], While marching with other protesters on Burnaby Mountain last month, I couldn’t help but feel disconcerted. This trend extends to academic disciplines as well. The culinary delight that is wild salmon: new podcast episodes, Diversity in the environmental movement: why it matters. In addition, Jenny brings a background in marketing, political consulting, journalism, and government. Still, Sierra Club fares better than 60 percent of environmental NGOs that don’t even have an institutional diversity plan in place. However, later on in the semester, Mishra explains that the course delved more into race and how race can be a determinant of health. This site includes a list of resources, including resources developed by NAAEE, designed to help educators and learners of all ages center equity in their work in the field of environmental education. In comparison, 47.7 percent of people who were awarded biological or physical science degrees were white. Sam Doss, a junior at Barnard and Divest’s spokesperson for the meeting, stated the club has recognized this flaw, especially since it was founded by four white women, and is working on outreach efforts to make the group more accessible. Ensuring everyone is heard; Creating a safe environment for staff members to propose new ideas (There is little evidence that diversity actually hurts any group of students, though at least one study has found that black students can suffer lower self-esteem in certain situations.) Yet, this particular environmental advocacy group’s lack of racial diversity is not unusual. “Environmental racism, on a certain scale, is an issue of colonialism,” Roundhouse concludes. For now, students in environmental biology classes learn about polygenic traits through whitewashed Punnett squares; sustainable development majors grapple with the white savior nature of their coursework; and environmental engineers, scientists, and policymakers of color face each day as a token in the movement’s diversity pool. I was eager to speak with a faculty member of color—at Barnard, Columbia, or the Earth Institute—about their experience as a person of color in an environmental field. Have fun leafing through our eighth issue, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter, As We See It! As of June 2020, its 12-member board of directors has one Black man, one Black woman, one Hispanic man, three white women, and six white men

diversity in environmentalism

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