We believe that diversity strengthens and enriches our work and makes the environmental movement more relevant than ever. There are so many ways diversity comes into the picture as we think about today’s businesses. Her background in sustainability includes working with non-traditional allies to promote old-growth forest conservation, producing podcasts on sustainability, and delivering bike mechanics workshops to women and people of colour. Platzer’s vision goes even further than community empowerment, claiming that the entire philosophy of sustainability needs to shift as well. Diversity in the workplace benefits. She blames the lack of diversity on social power balances. Sam Doss, a junior at Barnard and Divest’s spokesperson for the meeting, stated the club has recognized this flaw, especially since it was founded by four white women, and is working on outreach efforts to make the group more accessible. Ambria Benesch, a junior at Barnard studying environmental policy and political science, has had a more typical experience working at an environmental group that is severely lacking in diversity. Here are a few of the top benefits or diversity in the workplace. Priya Mishra, a junior in Columbia College majoring in sustainable development and economics, discusses her experience as a woman of color in her classes. It doesn’t make logical sense that conservation of our standard of living in the […], The environment-economy dichotomy dominates all climate discussions. This whitewashing expands beyond the realm of environmental sciences. Workplace diversity benefit #10: Improved hiring results. WE ACT, headquartered in Harlem, is an advocacy group that campaigns to mobilize low-income communities of color in the environmental movement. For a visual aid, the professor pulls up a Punnett square to demonstrate a polygenic trait, where genes have wide variability in expression. Environmental Diversity and the Value of the Unusual. Yet, this particular environmental advocacy group’s lack of racial diversity is not unusual. I was met with white faces upon white faces, with very few people of color with whom I could speak. “In order to have productive environmental movements, they have to be community-focused and run by people within the community who are invested in the community,” Reynolds tells me, a lesson she learned after working at the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance one summer. A study by the University of Michigan found the percentage of staff who […], The climate conversation is stuck. Platzer observes the Punnett square before her, on which the examples of skin color are varying shades of white. Daniel asks Professor Taylor about her research on the history of the environmental movement, focusing on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion within environmental groups, both historically and today. However, in Platzer’s experiences, environmental science lectures and textbooks’ examples tend to focus on white skin. This lack of diversity was evidently even more of an issue than I had thought, which is especially puzzling considering that climate change and environmental issues disproportionately affect people of color. Black, Hispanic, and Native American students and faculty are largely underrepresented in environmental engineering programs in the United States. I also like warm showers and nights in the city. Platzer listens closely as her professor discusses genetic expressions and phenotypes versus genotypes. The environmental movement is woefully homogenous. (There is little evidence that diversity actually hurts any group of students, though at least one study has found that black students can suffer lower self-esteem in certain situations.) In 2014, a report produced by Green 2.0, an organization that brings attention to the lack of diversity in mainstream environmental movements, conducted a survey of the country’s 40 largest environmental NGOs, including the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club. Out of the hundred people that were at the terminal, maybe 20 of us were people of colour or Indigenous. Cultural Diversity in Companies . Turn off your lights. As issues regarding climate change and environmental racism are disproportionately led by white activists and scientists, there are students and faculty members of color who seek an intersectional future for the discipline. Jenny puts on her foodie hat and with the help of folks at the David Suzuki Foundation, produce two audio shorts on the culinary magic of wild salmon. Stop to think about that for a second. What Will That Mean for The Future of Labor Organizing? Elsie Platzer, a sophomore at Columbia College majoring in ecology, evolution, and environmental biology and in creative writing, sits in her environmental biology class on a dreary Thursday afternoon. She shares with me a message that director of Honor the Earth and member of the Ojibwe tribe Tara Zhaabowekwe Houska wrote for allies of indigenous environmental justice. “We’re a very diverse organization ourselves, which is definitely not something that you see in environmental movements in general,” Roundtree says, explaining that the organization attempts to stray from the idea that “the environment is a playground for elites.”. Wild salmon are crucial to our ecosystem—and pretty tasty, too. About the episodes For episode 1, Everything You Wanted to Know About Pacific Salmon, […], While marching with other protesters on Burnaby Mountain last month, I couldn’t help but feel disconcerted. Have we been talking about climate in the wrong way. ... and attract additional talent interested in working in such an environment." Workplace diversity leads to better hiring results. I picked up a copy […]. I raised this problem with Mishra, who was unable to help me. Benesch aims to help address this lack of indigenous voices in environmental movements and narratives as editor-in-chief of Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development. Ensuring everyone is heard; Creating a safe environment for staff members to propose new ideas Given the increasing diversity in North America, why do you think that there is such a lack of diverse leadership and staffing at organizations that protect our health and environment? Benesch has noticed that, in the past, the journal has been economically focused, and she aims to broaden the journal’s horizons by adding more indigenous perspectives to the discussion. 490 Riverside Drive, Rm 414, New York, NY 10027. When I asked what inspired him to become a part of the environmental movement, he responded “It’s not so much about the environment as it is about survival for many of the people back home.” For myself as an Indian-American, going into the field, I expected more diversity in the work place, especially living in multi-cultural cities like Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA. All rights reserved. Stephan Roundtree, an environmental policy and advocacy coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, argues that environmental advocacy has been exclusive from its genesis. The culinary delight that is wild salmon: new podcast episodes, Diversity in the environmental movement: why it matters. As a member of Columbia Divest for Climate Justice, which she claims is becoming more racially diverse, Platzer attributes the lack of diversity in environmental NGOs to two main reasons. Speaking to her experience of having immigrant parents and being a first-generation student, she feels the pressure and responsibility to get a job post-graduation, which led her to also study economics. “My qualm with Divest [Barnard] is that it does tend to be predominantly white and white-passing students, especially at the forefront.”. Reynolds stresses that in environmental engineering, there is little focus on the social aspects behind the problems engineers work to solve, which is why she believes there are so few students of color within the discipline. The academic journal, run by Columbia undergraduates, is an interdisciplinary journal that seeks to bring together a wide range of focuses on sustainable development. This results in “no connection between an environmental paradigm and their lives.”. Being a small independent company we're not driven by a need to generate work for a large number of staff but are able to focus on projects that have the objective of being socially and environmentally sustainable.