Skip to content

Pro Bono Australia: “Racial Bias in US Environmental Organisations – Report”

August 1, 2014

August 1, 2014

Green 2.0 Team

A new US report shows that mainstream environmental NGOs and Foundations have made little progress in racially diversifying the “green insiders club”.

The report, by advocacy Not for Profit Green 2.0, finds that although people of colour now account for more than a third of the US population, they have not broken the 16 per cent “green ceiling” in mainstream environmental organisations.

The controversial report said these dismal numbers exist despite the fact that people of colour support environmental protections at a higher rate than whites.

The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies also finds that the sector has done little to institute practices that would bridge the diversity gap even though most environmental organisations have indicated that they value diversity.

“Unconscious bias, discrimination, and insular recruiting practices were found to be the three major challenges to hiring, retaining and promoting diverse talent in the mainstream organisations,” report author Dorceta E. Taylor said.

“Organisations either do not recognise or have been unwilling to act on initiatives that will make them more welcoming to people of color. They have also shown relatively little interest in partnering with and funding organisations that represent people of color.

“Numbers don’t lie. People of colour only represent 12 per cent of staff at foundations, 15.5 per cent of staff at government agencies and 12.4 per cent of staff in mainstream environmental NGOs, and none of the largest organisations had a president, vice president or assistant/associate director who was an ethnic or racial minority.

“Even more troubling, although most survey respondents expressed interest in bridging this glaring diversity gap, they admit that their organisations are unlikely to take the necessary steps to do so.”

To close the diversity gap, the report recommends instituting transparent tracking mechanisms to measure progress, integrating diversity goals into performance evaluations and grant-making criteria, and increasing resources for diversity efforts and supporting existing leaders of color.

 The Taylor Report surveyed 191 environmental Not for Profits, 74 government environmental agencies, and 28 leading environmental grantmaking foundations to investigate their gender and racial diversity composition.