Recently the Sierra Club announced that they hired a Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Earthjustice hired a Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion last September. This is terrific news! If you are like me, the results about the lack of diversity in the environmental movement published in the summer of 2014 by Green 2.0 served as a call to action. We must begin to do things differently; some of you already have diversity initiatives underway, while some of you may be wondering where to begin. Even if you can’t afford to hire a staffer to lead a diversity initiative, there are still many important and productive steps you can take.
At TREC, we launched a diversity, equity and inclusion initiative last year. The scope of our initiative at this time is internal to TREC. We know we need to do our own work first before we step into to building the capacity of others. I’ll share what we’re doing at TREC in hopes of giving you some applicable ideas.
We started by looking at our case for change. We knew we wouldn’t devote the necessary time and resources to a diversity and inclusion initiative unless we all understood and were clear on why it is important for TREC to take it on right now. We hired a diversity consultant who surveyed our staff and board and then facilitated an in-person meeting to get very clear on our case for change and to guide us in developing next steps.
We formed a diversity and inclusion committee. We made sure that the change-agents were on the committee. These are folks who we know will keep the initiative moving. We involved others in the organization in working groups, charged with developing specific outputs. To keep everyone at TREC up-to-speed, we put diversity and inclusion on our agenda for our monthly staff calls, and created an internal online site for posting documents and resources.
We started looking internally first at our culture. We developed a list of values and inclusive behaviors that we want to make sure we live by and build upon. We review these behaviors together at the start of our meetings, and we added them to our staff evaluations. We developed a TREC diversity and inclusion statement and posted it to our webpage for anyone to view. We’ve also revised our outreach strategy as we embark on a staff and Board recruitment effort.
We are committed to doing our own work before we work with others. This work isn’t easy, it takes time, attention, and energy. We have not only been increasing our own awareness and skills, we have been changing internal practices. We know we have a long way to go, but we have begun.