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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Action Plan

DEI Action Plan

Getting to a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment both inside and outside the doors of Earthjustice.

Update: The draft 2017 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Plan has been issued and is currently being finalized.

In 2016, Earthjustice created a comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plan that lays out our internal and external organizational goals for the year. Included in the plan are tangible objectives and metrics for accountability that will keep us committed to our vision.

The goals reflect the work we believe is essential to do on DEI, both inside and outside the doors of Earthjustice. Inside, we will continue our work to recruit and retain multi-culturally sophisticated employees and to build a stronger culture of inclusion. Outside our doors, we will work to diversify our clients, partners, donors and supporters to ensure that we are serving all communities impacted by environmental issues.

A ‘Report Card’ on the objectives of 2016 Plan was completed in early 2017. The analysis reviewed the original objective, summarized what was accomplished and assigned a rating to each outcome.

Introduction to the Action Plan
From Charles (Chas) J. Lopez Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion


I am both honored and humbled to be the inaugural Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion here at Earthjustice. I fully recognize that this position would not have been possible without all of the hard work on diversity and inclusion that took place before my arrival. Heartfelt thanks for this work goes to the dedicated staff and leadership of Earthjustice. I am also grateful for the contributions of talented consultants.

It is also important for us to examine the broader history of diversity and inclusion within the environmental movement. Unfortunately, the findings and conclusions from expert groups and individuals like Green 2.0 and Dr. Dorceta E. Taylor from the University of Michigan confirm that there has been much struggle to make relatively little progress. Despite this history, I remain heartened by the amazing commitment of Earthjustice to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at every level of our organization. I see this commitment in the people that I work side-by-side with, including our President, Trip Van Noppen. With this strong foundation, we have the opportunity to lead by example.

The goals, objectives and metrics that are outlined in the subsequent pages reflect a call to action based on recurring themes that I heard during the listening tour I conducted during my first 120 days; my hope is that my listening tour will continue indefinitely. The purpose of conducting my initial listening tour was to not only listen, but also to translate what I was hearing into a strategic set of goals and proposed actions reflecting a collective, organization-wide voice and not just my singular voice.

The goals aim to reflect needed work on DEI both inside and outside the doors of Earthjustice. Inside our doors, we will continue to work to recruit and retain multi culturally sophisticated employees and build a stronger culture of inclusion focused on valuing all of the multiple sets of characteristics that make up each one of us and allow us to show up at work as our full selves. Outside the doors of Earthjustice, we will work to increase the diversity of our stakeholders—our partners, clients and donors—who are most significantly impacted by environmental issues. As we do this critically important work, we will strive to do so with an equity lens and repeatedly ask ourselves the hard question of who is and who is not benefiting from our decisions.

I have asked each member of our Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to co-lead a specific DEI goal with me. We will also invite members from across the organization to join a working group focused specifically on one of the seven DEI goals. The hope is that we will develop strong, collaborative working relationships in these groups that will allow us to rely on one another as challenges arise.

Yes, it will require hard work;

Yes, we will face inevitable challenges;

Yes, it will require a sustained effort; and

Yes, together, we can do it.

Goal One:
Attract and hire diverse and multi-culturally sensitive staff.
How do we get there?
Create mandatory training on “Best practices for screening and evaluating candidates,” required of anyone serving on a hiring committee. Training will cover: a) Implicit bias and the ways to counteract it; b) Basics of employment law compliance; and c) Holistic assessment of candidates including assessment of EQ and multicultural sensitivity.
Acquire an understanding of current hiring practices and establish a baseline for hiring practices across the organization: a) Create guidelines for hiring committee composition; b) Create sample interview questions to ensure effective assessment of EQ and multicultural sensitivity; c) Provide recommendations for initial baseline screening practices across the organization; and d) Create neutral screening guidelines, starting with guidelines for associate attorney and clerk hiring, which involve multiple new hires each year. A longer-term objective will focus on establishing neutral screening guidelines for all positions across the organization.
Scope potential improvements in organization-wide recruitment practices.
Measuring Our Progress
Was a hiring training created and rolled out to the organization?
Were all of the above guidelines and questions drafted and approved by the work group for vetting and approval as appropriate by Human Resources, Managing Attorneys, the Best Place to Work committee, and the Senior Leadership Team?
Were current recruitment practices from across the organization evaluated and assessed for potential improvement(s)?
Goal Two:
Review current promotional pathways.
SLT Co-Leads
How do we get there?
Survey what employees would like in terms of high level training; for example, a high priority skills training roadshow, including specific training by position type.
Develop guidelines for mentors and mentees; implement program if desired organization-wide or provide guidance for office-based implementation.
Assess opportunities for growth for positions without currently defined job title progression.
Measuring Our Progress
Was a list of training topics created and utilized to create a training roadshow? What were the participation rates? Assessment of training’s effectiveness?
Was a survey created to assess interest in an organization-wide mentorship program? Assess survey results and if there is interest, create standards, guidelines, management, and training for an organization-wide mentorship program.
Was an assessment conducted of how these employees will grow, develop, and continue to be challenged and fulfilled under their existing job title?
Goal Three:
Increase partnerships that could lead to the representation of new clients.
How do we get there?
Determine a baseline of current partners and develop a mechanism for tracking future partnerships.
Work with each regional office to conduct a needs assessment.
Create a training series regarding working with disproportionately impacted communities.
Work with Litigation, Policy & Legislation, Operations, Development, and Communications to identify a select number of partners to strategically commit sustained organization-wide support to.
For 2017, incorporate working with partners as a goal into departmental/office strategic/work plans.
Measuring Our Progress
Was a baseline list of partnerships completed? Was a tracking mechanism created?
Was a needs assessment conducted for each regional office?
What number of trainings was provided?
What number of organization-wide communications was delivered?
Goal Four:
Develop a 21st-cenury donor constituency and expand portfolio of donors/funders to make it possible to take on new partners and clients.
How do we get there?
Determine the demographic data of the donors we want to monitor and establish a baseline of our current donor base.
Review messaging of web, media, ads, e-mail, and funder proposals for appeal to diverse donor/funder constituency.
Research marketing and other sources for ideas on how to better communicate our case for support to new audiences and who should be communicating.
Establish skills and best practices to reach diverse donors.
Measuring Our Progress
Was a baseline assessment conducted?
Was review conducted?
Assess if potential new marketing strategies were effective.
Were best practices established? Assess whether knowledge of donor diversity strategies was increased.
Goal Five:
Improve employee satisfaction, engagement, culture of trust, support, respect and inclusion.
How do we get there?
Host one heritage celebration per month.
Create a template or guide for establishing an affinity group and assess interest in additional affinity groups.
Implement a project referred to as “Building Understanding through Discussion and Sharing” (BUDS). BUDS is a project designed to help Earthjustice employees get to know each other, and the organization, better. Through a series of informal conversations guided by suggested topics with a partner from a different department, office, and/or level of seniority, staff members who wouldn’t normally have the chance to interact will have opportunities to expand their understanding of the work others do for the organization and create or deepen personal connections with others.
Measuring Our Progress
What number of monthly heritage celebrations took place? Assess level of organizational interest. Evaluate speakers.
Was a template or guide for creating a new affinity group completed? Was there an organizational assessment of the interest in creating additional affinity groups and of the types of resources that would be helpful in doing so? If there is an interest for additional affinity groups, was this information communicated to the organization?
Was a reverse-mentoring program created? What was the number of participants? Was the program successful from the perspective of the participants?
Goal Six:
Expand life-long learning program for all employees.
SLT Lead
How do we get there?
Establish list of training topics/guest speakers and prioritize list. Assess feasibility of providing trainings in a mode other than in-person.
Determine if CLE credit is available for trainings.
Measuring Our Progress
Was a list of trainings and speakers created? What number of trainings was provided? Assess if the trainings were effective.
Was the availability or non-availability of CLE credit for trainings made known to attorneys?
Goal Seven:
Increase employee engagement and recognition.
SLT Co-Leads
How do we get there?
Sponsor a quarterly outing for each regional office location.
Implement a peer-to-peer recognition program in various categories with awards presented at the All Staff Meeting.
Host a virtual meet-and-greet between regional offices and a departmental team (e.g., Communications, Development, or Finance) or a member of the SLT.
Measuring Our Progress
Was information provided to support a quarterly outing in each regional office? What number of outings took place for each regional office?
Was a peer nomination process created? Were awards presented at the All Staff Meeting? Assess whether or not the program was successful.
What was the number of meet-and-greets held per regional office?
The values and practices of diversity, equity and inclusion are critical to our organization’s success. At its core, we understand that diversity, equity and inclusion are about excellence in who we are and in what we do.
  • Andrea Delgado, second from left, then-3-years-old, is greeted by Ana Alicia Torres Aguirre.
    Dave Getzschman for Earthjustice
    Andrea Delgado (on left), Earthjustice senior legislative representative, is greeted by Ana Alicia Torres Aguirre, a farmworker and worker safety trainer from Arizona, following meetings with decision-makers in Washington, D.C.
  • Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen speaks at the 2014 All-Staff Meeting in Asilomar, California.
    Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
    Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen speaks at an all-staff meeting in Asilomar, California.
  • Earthjustice employees listen to a plenary session at an all-staff meeting in Asilomar, California.
    Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
    Earthjustice employees listen to a plenary session at an all-staff meeting in Asilomar, California.
  • Earthjustice staff at Asilomar, California, in 2014.
    Dave Getzschman for Earthjustice
    Earthjustice staff at Asilomar, California, in 2014.