Platzer listens closely as her professor discusses genetic expressions and phenotypes versus genotypes. 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. 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. Here are a few of the top benefits or diversity in the workplace. That’s where my interest lies – let’s whip out the magnifying glass and probe this dichotomy. Workplace diversity benefit #10: Improved hiring results. “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. 1 on DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. 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. 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. Workplace diversity leads to better hiring results. Have fun leafing through our eighth issue, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter, As We See It! I was met with white faces upon white faces, with very few people of color with whom I could speak. The academic journal, run by Columbia undergraduates, is an interdisciplinary journal that seeks to bring together a wide range of focuses on sustainable development. She blames the lack of diversity on social power balances. You’re identifying groups of people who have less power and you’re shifting burdens to them because they can’t stop you.”. 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. 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. Diversity in the workplace benefits. 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. 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 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. 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 raised this problem with Mishra, who was unable to help me. We believe that diversity strengthens and enriches our work and makes the environmental movement more relevant than ever. 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. This whitewashing expands beyond the realm of environmental sciences. While environmentalism focuses more on the environmental and nature-related aspects of green ideology and politics, ecology combines the ideology of social ecologyan… In other words, ecosystem diversity refers to the variety of ways that species interact with each other and their environment. 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 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. “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. 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. 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. 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. “Environmental racism, on a certain scale, is an issue of colonialism,” Roundhouse concludes. “It’s domestic, internal colonialism. Out of the hundred people that were at the terminal, maybe 20 of us were people of colour or Indigenous. 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. Graduate Workers Went on Strike Without Union Authorization. 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. 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. I picked up a copy […]. 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. I like hiking. 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. A more detailed version of the diversity wheel . 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Despite climate change being such a racialized issue, the number of people of color in environmental fields were few and far between. In addition, Jenny brings a background in marketing, political consulting, journalism, and government. Pick one, but not both, because you can’t have both. For a visual aid, the professor pulls up a Punnett square to demonstrate a polygenic trait, where genes have wide variability in expression. 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. There are so many ways diversity comes into the picture as we think about today’s businesses. 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. Aburi sushi, anyone? Understanding more the dimension of cultural diversity. diversity news. 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. 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. An example of one of these traits is skin color. Barnard anthropology professor Paige West studies how these power dynamics have affected indigenous people on a global scale. Priya Mishra, a junior in Columbia College majoring in sustainable development and economics, discusses her experience as a woman of color in her classes. She can converse passionately about the need for diversity in sustainability in three languages (and even when she stutters, she does it with passion). 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). 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].”. “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.”. Eleni Reynolds is a junior in the School of Engineering and Applied Science majoring in earth and environmental engineering. Platzer observes the Punnett square before her, on which the examples of skin color are varying shades of white. 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. Stop to think about that for a second. However, later on in the semester, Mishra explains that the course delved more into race and how race can be a determinant of health. Save the pandas. 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. The culinary delight that is wild salmon: podcast episodes Wild salmon are crucial to our ecosystem—and pretty tasty, too. 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. “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. The STaTe of DiverSiTy in environmenTal organizaTionS execuTive Summary page 7 ii. Ensuring everyone is heard; Creating a safe environment for staff members to propose new ideas Jenny Tan helps environmental organisations of all types—corporations, non-profits, and government agencies—communicate across cultures. This trend extends to academic disciplines as well. Or so they say. 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. A study by the University of Michigan found the percentage of staff who […], The climate conversation is stuck. Mishra views the decision to go into environmental disciplines and movements as a matter of economic privilege. 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. ... and attract additional talent interested in working in such an environment." 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. This results in “no connection between an environmental paradigm and their lives.”. In comparison, 47.7 percent of people who were awarded biological or physical science degrees were white. As one of the only black students in her year of her major, she is used to being a visible minority in the discipline. In almost every Western country, climate change has become a battle between the left and the right. The environmental movement is woefully homogenous. Platzer’s vision goes even further than community empowerment, claiming that the entire philosophy of sustainability needs to shift as well. Have we been talking about climate in the wrong way. WE ACT, headquartered in Harlem, is an advocacy group that campaigns to mobilize low-income communities of color in the environmental movement. Although often used in tandem with diversity, inclusion is a concept of its own. 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. 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. 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. Yet, this particular environmental advocacy group’s lack of racial diversity is not unusual. 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. In 2015, only 2.9 percent of students awarded a degree in environmental engineering nationwide were black. 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. 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. A pathway for increasing diversity … Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Resources for Environmental Education Professionals and Students. She notices the importance of empowering indigenous roles, and believes Consilience can be a platform to expand the discourse surrounding sustainable development. Students of color in environmental disciplines face issues regarding the content of the coursework and the demographic makeup of their majors. Copyright Spectator Publishing Company. As I spoke with students about the future of the environmental movement, this notion of community action and involvement arose frequently. What Will That Mean for The Future of Labor Organizing? Tropical or temperate forests, grasslands, hot and cold deserts, wetlands, rivers, mountains, and coral reefs are instances of ecosystem diversity. 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. All rights reserved. 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? Stephan Roundtree, an environmental policy and advocacy coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, argues that environmental advocacy has been exclusive from its genesis. 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. Workplace diversity is an especially beneficial asset for attracting top talent from diverse talent pools. 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. 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? 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. 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 … Environmental Diversity and the Value of the Unusual. 490 Riverside Drive, Rm 414, New York, NY 10027. (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.) 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. 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. Black, Hispanic, and Native American students and faculty are largely underrepresented in environmental engineering programs in the United States. Still, Sierra Club fares better than 60 percent of environmental NGOs that don’t even have an institutional diversity plan in place. 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. 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. The culinary delight that is wild salmon: new podcast episodes, Diversity in the environmental movement: why it matters. In 2020, Marriott International was No. Environmental impacts are as global as carbon footprint and as local as litter in our neighborhoods. 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. “My qualm with Divest [Barnard] is that it does tend to be predominantly white and white-passing students, especially at the forefront.”. 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. “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. But as Russell Kirk said, nothing is more conservative than conservation. For example, in 2015, 73.4 percent of people who were awarded environmental science degrees across the country were white. If we look at it today, we're around 16 percent … That's the good news. 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 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 … It doesn’t make logical sense that conservation of our standard of living in the […], The environment-economy dichotomy dominates all climate discussions. It is the diversity of ecosystems, natural communities, and habitats. 6 behaviours to implement that unlock innovation and promote equality. The environmental sciences lack diversity — and that leaves holes in our understanding of health. Wild salmon are crucial to our ecosystem—and pretty tasty, too. 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.
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