Environmental NGOs advance on racial and ethnic diversity
Green 2.0 was created in 2014 as a watchdog on diversity in the environmental sector. The organization strives to diversify the racial and ethnic face of the movement by providing research, data and education to environmental organizations, foundations and other stakeholders.
One of the ways Green 2.0 measures diversity is by releasing its annual Transparency Report, which reflects the demographics of the staff, leaders and boards of environmental NGOs and participating foundations. The latest newsletter was released this week and includes information gathered from nearly 90 organizations.
Raviya Ismail, communications manager for Green 2.0, spoke with the organization’s executive director, Andres Jimenez, about the main takeaways from this year’s report.
Raviya Ismail: What kind of progress is the environmental sector making in terms of diversity and inclusion?
Andrés Jiménez: Among the NGOs that participated this year, we have found that the proportions of staff of color are increasing at all levels, although the average percentage of staff of color remains around 30% for full-time staff, senior managers and staff of color. members of the board of directors. We have seen significant progress in the number of people of color in senior management, with a 25.2 percent increase from 2020 to 2021 and a 28 percent increase in the number of people of color on the board of directors over the course of from the same period.
Additionally, this was the first year we collected demographic data for NGO leaders. Our report found that 25.3 percent of organizations are run by people of color and 73.1 percent are white. This is only a year of data, so we don’t have a comparison to conclude if this is an upward trend; However, these percentages of people of color in major organizations are similar to the demographics of staff at all levels of organizations.
Another factor we need to take into consideration when reviewing this data is that according to the 2019 Census, the US population is 60.1% white, so reporting organizations are significantly whiter than even the general population. Progress is being made, yes, but to keep up with the demographic evolution of our country, NGOs must step up their diversity efforts.
Ismail: What are the conclusions on the foundation side?
Jiménez: One of the most significant changes we’ve made this year has been to determine whether foundations fund equally white-led groups and people from color-led groups. The short answer is: no, they absolutely are not.
Of the foundations that participated this year, on average, they fund organizations led by white people almost 40% more per year than organizations led by people of color. This disparity is even more glaring when looking at multi-year funding. We found that groups led by people of color received less than 1% of multi-year funding, with groups led by white people receiving more than 99% of multi-year funding.
When companies partner with other organizations, you essentially co-sign the policies and practices of that company.
But what’s more troubling is that this is anonymous data from foundations that have volunteered to participate, and many foundations do not collect this fundraising data at all. This is the first year that Green 2.0 has decided to approach data differently with environmental foundations, looking at where the money is going, to ensure that foundations fund organizations run by people of color and don’t continue. to channel most of their money to causes and organizations run by white leaders. The data indicates that the industry has a lot of work to do on this front.
Ismail: What demographics do you have for the foundations?
Jiménez: On average, board members of organizations that benefit from foundations are 34 percent people of color compared to 50 percent white. Senior executives reflected similar percentages, with 37% people of color and 55% white. The only way we’ll see those numbers change – from funding flows to the demographics of boards and senior executives – is if more foundations are willing to engage in uncomfortable conversations and be transparent in their work. their policies and practices. We encourage more foundations to participate and disclose more transparency in the future.
Ismail: Overall, how is the green movement doing compared to last year?
Jiménez: Let’s go back to the main findings from our last newsletter for comparison. Data collected between 2017 and 2020 revealed that in 2020 the proportion of staff of color in organizations was 26.3%, and in 2021 the results show it to be around 30%. Yes, we can say that progress is happening, albeit in small increments.
Ismail: Many large companies in the GreenBiz audience are engaging with environmental organizations through their climate initiatives. Why should this data be important to these companies?
Jiménez: When companies partner with other organizations, you essentially co-sign the policies and practices of that company. Diversity and inclusion policies are integral to ensuring that organizations of all types perform better and, more importantly, meet individual needs. Green 2.0 is a watchdog on diversity in the environmental space, but all you have to do is read the headlines and talk to people to recognize that workplaces that don’t prioritize practices diversity and inclusion are struggling. This is why the importance of data transparency cannot be overstated.
Environmental organizations that do things right go one step further by regularly reviewing and analyzing data and integrating these policies into all aspects of their work. Businesses should care about diversity and inclusion policies because it’s 2021, and if they’re not on the right track to caring about those policies, they’re essentially excluding an entire segment of the population.
Ismail: What else would you like to share about the transparency bulletin process?
Jiménez: The data in this report was voluntarily submitted and self-reported by individual organizations. We rely on this data to empower the sector, but it’s beneficial for organizations to participate because it’s an immediate signal that shows, “Hey, I care about diversity and inclusion, and here is my data to back it up. my comments. The numbers aren’t always pretty, but I’m proud of the many changes we’ve made this year, making this the most comprehensive report we’ve released since its inception.