Diversity Survey Response
(Survey Response Is Below Letter)
January 29, 2004
Norris McDonald, President, African American Environmentalist Association
Ref: AAEA Green Group Diversity Report Card
Dear Mr. McDonald:
Attached to this letter is Environmental Defenses response to the AAEA diversity survey.
Environmental Defense takes its responsibility to the entire community seriously. Our Mission Statement adopted in our 1997 Strategic Plan is inclusive when it states:
We believe a sustainable environment will require economic and social systems that are equitable and just. We affirm our commitment to the environmental rights of the poor and people of color.
In the formulation of our strategic plan, we determined that we could have the most widespread impact on issues of importance to select communities by incorporating our environmental justice efforts into each of our programs, rather than by establishing a dedicated environmental justice program. As a result, each program is directed to look for opportunities to advance environmental justice in its work. An Environmental Justice Committee of our Board of Trustees is charged with overseeing all of environmental justice efforts and reviews the results achieved by the organization at each of its meetings.
Our Living Cities program in particular is dedicated to improving environmental conditions in urban areas, and especially in traditionally underserved communities. We work on solutions at many different levels of government and in the private sector, establishing close working relationships with community organizations in cities where we are active. For example, we are working to eliminate environmental triggers of asthma in urban areas; we have helped launch an urban land trust to build new parks in park-starved neighborhoods in Los Angeles; and we united with community leaders in Atlanta to bring transit service to inner city neighborhoods.
We utilize partnerships and allies to achieve many of our objectives. This is true for our environmental justice efforts. Our Strategic Plan states the following Environmental Defense will work closely with other national environmental organizations, environmental justice interests and local grassroots groups. We have included a partial list of the organizations that we are currently working with in our survey response.
We strive to maintain a Board of Trustees whose members are committed to our goals, who are prepared to actively participate in our efforts and who are representative of the diversity of this country. We have many Trustees, both on our national board and on our regional advisory committees who are people of color. We are working to add even more diversity to our Board. We have a formal search in progress to accomplish this objective, and we are making progress.
Our staff is committed to ensuring environmental justice as we work towards our objectives. Our Environmental Justice Mini-Grant Program administered by our Staff Advisory Committee (SAC) provides staff with a tool to support environmental justice efforts and to broaden the scope of program efforts. Through this program, financial support is provided to fund staff nominated initiatives that advance environmental justice work and broaden the scope of our efforts. In 2003 nine initiatives received financial support. These mini-grants focus on the work of local groups and broadening the audience for our work.
As an organization, we are committed to ensuring that environmental issues and information needed by individuals to protect their health and safeguard their neighborhoods is available to the broadest audience. In April 1998, we launched our Scorecard.org website - a bold new step in this direction. With this tool, information on important environmental problems was made available on a neighborhood basis. Updates of the website have made a significant portion of the information available in Spanish and have added Environmental Justice pages focusing on the disproportionate impacts of environmental pollution on poor communities and communities of color in the United States. Scorecard provided the facts that enabled these communities to go on the offensive. More recently, we have worked with the Hispanic Radio Network to bring issues of importance to Hispanic communities to the forefront, and we are increasingly translating our reports into Spanish for broader distribution. We are seeking to expand our education and outreach efforts, with continued attention on impacted communities.
Environmental Defense is committed to having the best and the most diverse staff possible. We work hard at this, but we understand that we have more to do. Our Human Resource Philosophy adopted by our Board, is clear on our intent.
We must make every effort to attract, motivate and retain people with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Our ability to increase staff diversity depends heavily on our ability to ensure a broad pool of candidates and our success in attracting people of color to environmental careers. In our recruiting efforts we utilize targeted outlets to identify diverse candidates. We are always seeking additional opportunities in this regard. Interns, Fellowship and entry-level positions are part of a long-term strategy to increase representation in senior program positions.
In order to fulfill our mission of protecting the environment for all people, we will continue in our commitment to program objectives that incorporate environmental justice issues, to a Board of Trustees that speaks for all people and to maintaining a staff representative of the diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds of all people.
President, Environmental Defense
Does your organization have grants or contracts with the Federal government?
Yes__X____ No_______ List Agencies:
Environmental Protection Agency
Department of Energy
1. Number of professional minority employees (number of nonminority employees).
Professional staff includes attorneys, scientists, economists, policy specialists, and finance, development and Information Technology professionals. Environmental Defense has 207 professional staff members, 35 (17%) are people of color.
2. Number of administrative minority employees (number of nonminority admin employees).
Administrative staff members include administrative assistants, clerical support staff, development assistants, and facility and office support staff. Environmental Defense has 52 administrative staff members, 23 (44%) are people of color.
3. Percent of minority employees over the past 3 years (average) compared to nonminority employees.
Over the past 3 years on average 25% of Environmental Defense staff have been people of color.
4. Do you have a formal Diversity Program?
Yes, since 1988 we have had a targeted internship program managed by our Human Resources Director Mark Priest. Through our Staff Advisory Committee, we administer an Environmental Justice mini-grant program, which funds staff nominated initiatives that advance environmental justice work in our programs and broaden the scope of our efforts. The budget for these programs is $65,000, exclusive of the staff cost to administer the programs.
5. Number of minority program managers and project directors (number of nonminority program managers and project directors).
We have 37 staff members at the program manager, program director levels, 3 of which are persons of color.
6. Number of formal (programmatic, monetary, managerial) partnerships with minority organizations.
Partnerships are utilized extensively by Environmental Defense to achieve our objectives. The list below represents some of the current working relationships and partnerships that we have with minority organizations.
The Verde Coalition
United Farm Workers (UFW) and its non-profit affiliate, La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE);
Latino Issues Forum (LIF)
Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice
Alliance for Liveable Los Angeles
LAX Coalition for Environmental, Economic and Educational Justice
EJ Water Coalition
Paseo del Norte Air Coalition
Paseo del Norte Water Coalition
BioDesert, AC. Mexico
ProNature Noreste Mexico
Savannah State University, Dr. Matt Gilligan, chair Marine Science Curriculum
Foundation for Nature and Man
Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation
7. Number of minority contractors used for goods and services (at least 3 with at least 15% of supplier/services budget).
Minority contractors used for goods and services exceed 3 although the amount paid does not exceed 15% of our budget.
8. Use services of minority bank (at least one).
Environmental Defense has one primary banking relationship. At this time we do not have a minority bank relationship.
9. Total amount of contributions to minority environmental organizations (threshold: 15% budget)
Environmental Defense allocates approximately 4% of its budget for grants to others. A substantial number of these grants are provided to organizations working on the impacts of the environment on people of color or in the case of developing countries to NGOs representing indigenous populations.
10. Percent of budget dedicated to minority staff and minority programs.
Approximately 7% of our budget is spent on minority staff and minority programs.
Each item has a value of 10 points or 10 percentage points. The ratings include: 100%-80%-Excellent, 70%-50%-Good, Below 50%-Poor
The Environmental Movement should reflect the demographics of America. As such, we are using a specific percentage as the basis for evaluating environmental groups. We believe that a 15% participation rate is a fair measure for applying the criteria listed above. It also provides a tangible target for groups to measure themselves. This percentage rate will be applied to appropriate criteria.
However, we realize that this level of participation will be problematic for traditional environmental organizations because the work environments can be hostile, exclusive, and policy positions can be contrary to personal, racial and cultural beliefs. Thus, the history of minorities in these positions is poor. When minorities are hired, the retention rate is poor. Minority participation will remain poor as long as working environments at environmental groups are hostile and as long as they are unwilling to entertain and adopt minority-friendly policies.
Copyright © 2003. African American Environmentalist Association. All Rights Reserved.