As you may know, TREC has increased our focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) over the last two years. Our focus has been primarily internal looking at our own culture, diversity and systems. While we are not doing specific DEI consulting and training at this time, we are committed to providing opportunities to learn with and from each other. For starters, TREC is thrilled to be hosting a DEI webinar this Thursday at 11:00 AM MTN with The Avarna Group on “Laying the Foundations for DEI Work in your Organization: An Introduction to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” I encourage you and your team to join us.
TREC is committed to understanding our clients’ interests and needs so that we can better support you in all of your work. TREC recently reached out to Executive Directors to learn more about what is happening in your world related to DEI. This summer we invited 106 Executive Directors of conservation organizations to take part in a DEI survey. TREC was thrilled to receive 53 completed surveys, for a solid response rate of 50%. We’ve compiled a summary of our findings in the attached report for your review.
In your thoughtful replies to the survey, many of you highlighted important reasons why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is core to your mission. Your responses were inspiring to me and I want to take this opportunity to share themes from them with all of you.
1. DEI is imperative to having relevance and success in conservation.
Many of you pointed to the need to have relationships with ALL communities, especially communities that have been historically marginalized in the conservation movement. We must broaden our work and build a common ground to support and deepen our engagement to continue to gain on-the-ground wins. Some made the point that the conservation movement began at a time when there was a greater inequality between races, culture, and gender; it is time to ensure that all communities are equitable in the movement.
2. First Nations and Native peoples are deeply involved in leading and advancing conservation issues.
Many survey responders felt they not been effective enough in forming collaborative, mutually beneficial relationships among First Nations and Alaskan Natives or Native Americans and communities of color overall. Many of you highlighted the need to expand our work and how we work to more effectively include people of color, diverse viewpoints and backgrounds in order to solve complex problems and gain better insight into conservation battles. Working collaboratively among predominantly white organizations and First Nations and Native peoples is seen as a key need to foster real engagement and expanded perspectives. This perspective includes an understanding of how structural racism and inequality has contributed to damaging the land and significantly impacting the people who live on the land. Many of you noted that through this understanding we can work together to bring about lasting political and social changes.
3. Funders are more committed to DEI and looking to organizations to include DEI in their work.
Additionally, several of you noted that funders are seeing the importance of DEI work and are encouraging DEI work in organizations. Funders see the importance of DEI on organizations’ impact and their base of support, and more and more funders are looking for a DEI lens in the organizations and projects they fund.
These and others are GREAT reasons for initiating and expanding DEI work in our organizations.
Many of you are primed to begin work, but haven’t gotten very far yet, and are uncertain about next steps. Some of you have made strides and some have work well underway. If you haven’t done much in the way of DEI work yet, you are not alone, as evidenced by the survey results. And as far as next steps, please join us this Thursday to find out why, where, and how to start “Laying the Foundation for DEI Work in your Organization.” Let’s get started together! If you have work underway, please join us as well, learning with each other helps us all.
TREC Executive Director