Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Reporting and Transparency Report No. 1

Just last week, Dr. Dorceta Taylor, James E. Crowfoot Collegiate Professor and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, released a report profiling diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within environmental non-profits, government agencies, and foundations throughout the United States. Dr. Taylor is a leader in environmental justice and has spent her career advocating for institutional diversity within the environmental field.  Nearly a year and a half of data collection has culminated in this extensive report detailing the lack of racial and gender diversity within staff and board of these organizations, absence of DEI plans or training opportunities, and the general decline in reporting frequency by organizations over the last few years.

In 2014, Dr. Taylor made a similar cry for action with her report on the State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations, which exposed the lack of race and gender diversity for the United States’ top environmental organizations. This new report builds on this previous report by profiling 2,057 organizations and looking at diversity reporting and transparency trends on Guidestar. Guidestar is a voluntary reporting system for non-profits that allows for institutional transparency. Due to the Voluntary nature of Guidestar, out of the 2,057 organizations, only a fraction of them actually reported diversity data. Of that fraction, gender diversity data was more commonly reported than racial/ethnic diversity.

Key findings of the new report, Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Reporting and Transparency, include:

  • Whites comprised more than 80% of the board members and more than 85% of the staff of the groups studied.
  • Males occupy 62% of board positions, but comprise less than half of the staff of the organizations.
  • DEI reporting on Guidestar has declined substantially since 2014
  • Organizations with larger budgets are more likely to participate in DEI activities, than those with smaller budgets.

This is just one report of several more, and we are happy to finally see this information out and available to the public. We hope that this report to provide an impetus for increasing commitment to institutional DEI initiatives within environmental organizations throughout the country.

-Jessica Robinson, SEAS Graduate Student Researcher