2019 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Action Report Card
2019 DEI Report Card
Earthjustice's comprehensive Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan lays out our internal and external organizational goals for the year. The goals reflected the work we believe is essential to do on DEI.
We will continue our work to recruit and retain multi-culturally sophisticated employees and to build a stronger culture of inclusion. We will work to diversify our clients, partners, donors and supporters to ensure that we are serving all communities impacted by environmental issues.
The following assessment summarizes what was accomplished in the 2019 DEI plan and assigns a rating to each outcome: “Accomplished” (objective was met); “Ongoing” (substantial work was completed on the objective and additional work is required to operationalize the recommendations as institutional practice); or “Not Met” (insufficient work accomplished to meet the stated objective).
I am proud to say that Earthjustice is showing leadership in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We have been able to compare our efforts alongside some of the largest and most significant environmental groups, and the initial results of the demographic data show that Earthjustice is more racially diverse than other environmental organizations. We ended 2019 with an impressive growth to 40% of our staff consisting of people of color. And yet, the work that we do is not only about numbers. Beyond the statistics, we continue to make diversity, equity, and inclusion a top priority year in and year out, and the foundation of our success starts with our staff.
This next part of our DEI journey will require deep reflection and commitment to community, accountability, respect, and empathy (CARE). CARE continues to be the framework for a new way of upholding the organization’s core values of Justice, Excellence, Partnership, and Inclusion. The transformation is not going to happen overnight. To move us forward, we are taking everything we have learned from our past to evolve our culture and create a strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Earthjustice.
Thank you for the continued support of the DEI team and the work we are charged with doing. You welcomed me to Earthjustice in May 2019 and presented me with a beautifully complicated picture of progress. I am encouraged by the community-building and DEI efforts I have seen across the organization and am inspired by the forward-looking community of artists, advocates, and allies who have made the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion a top priority for many years.
At Earthjustice, as we enter into community with one another, the ask is simple: We honor our stories, are present for each other, and strive for empathic action in every moment. I join this community with much love, respect, and CARE for the ways you have brought us thus far.
Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Attract and hire a diverse and multiculturally sensitive staff
To cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace, we must commit to making continuous and tangible improvements to our organization’s recruitment and hiring practices.
Over the past four years, we’ve operationalized processes designed to embed equity into the hiring process. While we have taken the past year to review our existing practices, we continue to strengthen our partnership with Human Resources to improve our hiring practices and ensure that they continue to be equitable. Also, we identified areas in need of improvement and instituted forms of accountability, including updates to our interview questions that assess emotional intelligence and cultural competency to ensure continued effectiveness in selecting outstanding candidates.
We are at a pivotal time in our organization’s DEI journey. To grow our organization and achieve our mission, we need to bring in diverse, multicultural staff that reflect the communities that we serve. Over the past year, we have seen that equitable hiring practices lead to more diversity within our staff: in 2019, 59% of our new hires identified as people of color.
Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion both within and beyond Earthjustice, in our staff and in the clients and partners we work with, is critical to our success. We expect that all our candidates will be able to demonstrate:
- Their awareness and knowledge of cross-cultural context.
- A positive attitude toward cross-cultural learning, including affirmative efforts to increase their knowledge.
- Skill in engaging across different cultures, backgrounds, and identities. Certain positions will require additional skill in developing an institutional environment that supports diverse partnerships and inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds in the workplace.
A further step to ensure equity in the hiring process has been to require that all hiring panels be diverse and representative of the organization. Furthermore, it is important that staff on hiring panels have access to all the tools they need to equitably assess candidates.
- Reevaluate the existing accountability mechanism for completing Hiring Committee Best Practices Training and ensuring that the mechanism used moving forward provides accurate tracking. Assessment: Accomplished We evaluated the current mechanism for the Hiring Committee Best Practices Training and determined that it needed to be updated. To address this need, Human Resources, in collaboration with DEI, created a reading guide to serve as a refresher training for staff for whom more than a year has elapsed since taking the Hiring Committee Best Practices Training. The workgroup members redesigned our recruitment intranet site to make it more user-friendly and created a toolkit to help support hiring managers. In addition, they created several in-house training videos for our online recruiting platform. We have incorporated our Hiring Committee Best Practices Training as part of our newly developed onboarding process. Starting in January 2020, the Recruitment Team will be hosting recruitment lunch-and-learns to guide managers through the hiring process.
- Review and update interview questions assessing candidates’ emotional intelligence and cultural competency to ensure continued effectiveness in selecting outstanding candidates from each open position. Assessment: Accomplished We have updated our interview questions and established additional guidance for hiring committee members by developing a matrix that includes descriptions and hypothetical scenarios designed to help candidates bring their whole selves to the interview.
Review current pathways for promotions
Creating equitable and transparent pathways for promotions continues to be a critical part of Earthjustice’s work to be a just and inclusive organization. Over the past year, our Human Resources team has continued to work to create clearly documented “job families” that clarify the pathway for growth and advancement for any given role, so that pathways for promotions are clear to staff and supervisors. HR has been partnering with an independent consultant to complete the job family project; they expect to complete the project by spring 2020. Job families will be created for all professional staff (i.e., Development, Communications, Operations, Policy and Legislation, Executive Assistants, Legal Practice Managers, etc.). Some staff categories are not conducive to creating job families; however, attention is being paid to ensure equity across similar roles in the organization and to create consistency in job titles. While we do not expect the creation and implementation of job families to address all concerns surrounding equitable practices for career advancement, they will go a long way towards providing transparency and will allow staff and supervisors to have a shared understanding of the process and requirements to advance within a job family.
In 2019, there have also been additional efforts to create more equitable opportunities for promotions within Earthjustice. The most notable of these is a policy to advertise newly created staff attorney and senior associate attorney positions internally before posting them externally. This will give internal candidates priority in the hiring process, which may help to increase retention and diversify Earthjustice’s staff attorney ranks.
- Continue the job family initiative established in 2017 intended to clarify the promotional pathways for growth and advancement for any given role, so that pathways for promotions are transparent to staff and supervisors. In 2018, a first set of job families was implemented and shared with staff. Assessment: Ongoing Several job families have been finalized. HR is working with an independent consultant to complete the project. The consultant has met with all Earthjustice teams and is currently working to finalize all the remaining job families. The job family project is expected to be mostly complete by early 2020, and new job families will start to be implemented in spring 2020.
Increase and deepen partnerships that could lead to the representation of new clients and a more diverse client base.
Our local, national, and international partnerships are a truly elemental aspect of our fight for environmental justice. We recognize that environmental conditions are not only about laws, but also about power—who has it, how it is used, and who benefits from the status quo. We believe that to effect positive change, we must put the lived experiences of the frontline communities that we work with at the forefront.
Our Partners & Clients workgroup produced and disseminated several resources to assist our efforts to expand and nurture more diverse partnerships. In early 2019, the group hosted two plenaries intended to offer Earthjustice staff tools, resources, and best practices for fostering authentic partnerships. These plenaries led to the creation of a group of volunteers situated across each of our regional offices called the “Partnership Champions.” The Partnership Champions have committed to being well-versed in our Partnership Toolkit, and will act as an ongoing internal resource to strengthen our practice of creating and maintaining authentic partnerships. Outside of our DEI workgroup, the Development team has formed the Fundraising Partnership working group, which is currently producing guidelines around how to best leverage philanthropy to support historically marginalized communities. They are also creating a central repository for the various tools and resources our staff can use to help better support our partners.
Our Community-Based Initiatives program, led by Managing Attorney Angela Johnson Meszaros, changed their name to Community Partnerships to better reflect the heart of their work. Her team has rapidly grown over this past year, and it will continue to do so in the year to come. Our new Tribal Partnerships staff have developed a strategic plan aimed at protecting tribal land and water resources from extractive industries, promoting tribal climate resilience, and elevating the voices of our Native and Indigenous clients and partners.
- Address our partners’ and clients’ desire for various training opportunities proposed in a 2018 survey, including social media training provided by Earthjustice staff to address partners’ and clients’ desire for communication skills development: Assessment: Accomplished The working group created, produced, and hosted a live communications webinar for our clients and partners, followed by a Q&A session. The presentation focused on strengthening organizations’ communication skills, including compelling storytelling, handling press interviews, and critical social media strategies.
- Distribute a survey to partners and clients to assess the cultural competency and partnership-building skills of the Earthjustice staff who engage with them. Assessment: Ongoing In 2019, DEI Working Group 3 – Partners and Clients developed an RFP to solicit proposals from evaluators to survey our clients and partners. The goal of the evaluation is for Earthjustice to develop a deeper understanding of how we serve as a partner to our clients, in particular when we work alongside communities of color, frontline communities, and organizations that demographically differ from our own.
- To support the Partnership Champions, a group of staff who volunteered to promote the Partnership Toolkit and foster and maintain respectful partnerships. Partnership Champions are the point of contact for their respective programs and departments. They ensure that their teams have the tools they need to successfully utilize the toolkit and educate coworkers about the value of diverse and authentic partnership. Assessment: Ongoing In 2019, workgroup members and Partnership Champions collaborated with other teams in order to produce a learning session centered on partnership for Earthjustice’s biannual attorney training at the Litigation Training Conference (LTC). The workgroup members also produced graphs that depict our current client representation.
Develop a 21st-century donor constituency and expand portfolio of donors/funders to make it possible to take on new partners and clients
Our DEI commitments are central to all our work, including our fundraising. These commitments ensure that we are conducting donor outreach in an equitable and inclusive way, diversifying our donor base, and connecting clients and partners to funding resources. This last goal was a particular focus in 2019. Given that Earthjustice is a large and well-resourced environmental organization, it is our responsibility to promote the equitable distribution of fundraising resources. The creation of the Development Toolkit in 2018 led to the formation of an internal workgroup, the Fundraising Partnership Group, within the Development department to create a clear process to build fundraising support for partners and clients. This workgroup has taken proactive steps to understand what Earthjustice can do to connect partners to financial resources and has been working with senior leadership to spur decisionmaking. The guidelines that the workgroup creates will be made available to all Earthjustice staff who work closely with partners and clients.
- Work to identify barriers and create processes for deeper fundraising capacity, building support for our clients and partners. Assessment: Ongoing The Development Department established an internal workgroup, the Fundraising Partnerships Workgroup, to identify barriers to providing fundraising support to our clients and partners. The workgroup, in close collaboration with the General Counsel’s office and others, is working to create a set of guidelines for working with clients that will allow us to conform with the ABA ethical rules governing these issues. This work is ongoing.
- Rebranding the organization’s midlevel donor program as “Justice Partners.” Assessment: Ongoing The Outreach and Membership Services team launched the rebranding of our mid-level donor program, Justice Partners, this past summer with great success. This fall, with the support of the Events team, we also launched a series of Justice Partners Summits, the first in Chicago with 59 guests; the second in Washington, D.C., on November 14 with 65 guests.
- Assess outreach strategies to all donors at all giving levels. Assessment: Ongoing We continue to assess our outreach strategies to donors at all other giving levels as well.
Improve employee satisfaction, engagement, and culture of trust, support, respect, and inclusion
Over the past year, Earthjustice has engaged in a considerable internal discussion about how to intentionally create an inclusive organizational culture, and we invested significant time and resource in an external assessment of our DEI practices and policies. This assessment, which was ongoing throughout 2019, produced a robust set of observations and recommendations to create a more equitable and inclusive organization. Now that the results of the assessment have been shared with the organization, Earthjustice is currently gathering staff feedback on how best to prioritize our next steps.
In the DEI workgroup focused on culture, we worked to ensure the continuation of our most impactful programs. We continued the BUDS program (Building Understanding through Discussion and Sharing), a voluntary initiative that pairs staff with similar interests for informal conversations. To get the conversations started, the workgroup provides topics intended to create opportunities for colleagues to get to know each other as people. The workgroup also continued to steward the Peer Recognition Awards, a long-standing initiative in which Earthjustice staff nominate colleagues for recognition. It is one of the ways that we are working to create a happier and more engaged workforce.
Outside of the DEI workgroup, staff is fully engaged in activities to foster a more inclusive and equitable work environment and boost a culture of respect and trust. In 2019, Earthjustice developed two new roles in the Communications department that will be critical to our internal culture. We recently hired a Director of Internal Communications who will develop an overarching vision and strategy to create greater alignment and community building across the organization’s 14 offices. We also hired a Culture Program Manager in the Internal Communications team, whose focus is developing and facilitating activities that bring staff together through creativity and learning. We have recently piloted several well-attended activities across the organization, such as our Creative Processes Workshop where staff meet with others to reflect and hone in on their creative practice.
- Part of our work towards achieving our DEI goals involves building an equitable and inclusive organizational culture that advances our mission. Three years ago, we implemented the Building Understanding through Discussion and Sharing (BUDS). We plan to continue the administration of the BUDS program. Assessment: Ongoing In 2019, the BUDS Program had 74 participants, which was a slight increase in participants from the year prior. However, there was a corresponding decrease in the percentage of participation among staff. The program was accelerated to begin in July to avoid diminishing availability for meetings at year-end. We believe that deepening the impact of this program will depend on communication around the launch and collecting actionable feedback from participants and non-participants.
- Continue the Peer Recognition Award initiatives to help create an inclusive internal culture and increase employee engagement and satisfaction. We plan to continue the administration of the Peer Nominations program. Assessment: Ongoing The Peer Recognition Awards had a high record of participation in the third year of the program. There were 561 nominations, up from 324 last year, representing a 73% increase, as well as 237 distinct award winners, compared to 159 last year, representing a 49% increase. Many of our colleagues shared that the program helps them feel more connected to each other, and they appreciate the opportunity to pause and reflect on the many supportive and strong relationships that they have built and can rely upon, across departments and beyond their physical geography. This program has evolved to be a valuable tool to help maintain our culture and stay connected to one another as we continue to grow.
- Distribute the Internal Culture Survey, drafted to develop baseline measurements across many dimensions of our internal culture, and to allow us to identify DEI priorities moving forward. Assessment: Ongoing The DEI Internal Culture Survey was first drafted in 2017 in order to give Earthjustice staff the opportunity to self-identify demographic information accurately. In 2019, the workgroup partnered with HR and DEI to reevaluate the original survey goals, questions, and distribution time frame. We have created a new, condensed set of survey questions that addresses these goals, and we have drafted an RFP for a professional research agency to distribute the survey and analyze the results in 2020.
Expand lifelong learning opportunities for all employees
After the two-day DEI training offered to all staff in 2018, our DEI team and Internal Resource Team spent much of 2019 assessing our ongoing training approach. We increased the size of the IRT to include staff from each Earthjustice office, so that the group is truly representative of the organization. Several IRT members attended outside trainings to assess their relevance for Earthjustice staff. The organization is considering proposals for trainings to address microaggressions, difficult conversations, and resilience, and the IRT will play a crucial role in determining the way forward for these training topics.
Although there were no organization-wide instances of training in 2019, we have continued to provide DEI training to new staff, who attended off-site, multiday trainings that reflected the curriculum from our 2018 trainings. In 2020, we will be adapting these trainings so that they can more efficiently meet the needs of our rapidly growing staff.
In addition, Earthjustice participated in the Environment and Equity Leadership Cohort (E2LC), a program organized by the Raben Group, which brings together staff from nearly a dozen environmental organizations to share their learnings about DEI work. One of the benefits of this program was a training focused on equitable management practices, led by The Management Center, which was attended by more than fifteen Earthjustice staff.
As part of our Strategic Plan for People and Management, Earthjustice continues to make manager training a central priority, and all new managers are required to attend a training led by CompassPoint on equitable and inclusive management skills. The organization continues to invest considerable resources in coaching for all supervisors to build the skills needed to successfully manage diverse teams.
Recognizing the importance of continued learning outside of formal trainings, Earthjustice worked with consultants to offer restorative justice as a resource across the organization throughout 2019. This tool created opportunities for staff to address interpersonal and organizational conflict in a safe environment.
- We expanded goal group focused on training to a 15-person Internal Resource Team (IRT) that works closely with outside vendors to orchestrate and administer DEI training and continues to build collective understanding around diversity in our three-year training goals for Earthjustice. Assessment: Ongoing In 2019, we further expanded the IRT to include staff from each Earthjustice office, so that the group is fully representative of the organization. In early 2020, the group will reconvene to determine next steps to provide ongoing learning opportunities for Earthjustice staff. The IRT will also serve as a resource for the DEI team in determining its strategic direction.
- IRT members attend and vet trainings, conferences, and webinars related to Earthjustice’s three-year vision on a regular basis. Assessment: Ongoing Individual IRT members attended several trainings and webinars on topics including equitable organizational structure and T-group training also known as sensitivity-training group is a form of group training where participants learn about social interaction with others. Their experiences will inform the IRT’s recommendations for trainings in 2020 and beyond.
- IRT members participate in “train the trainer” opportunities, expanding their personal and professional DEI skillsets. Assessment: Not Met Due to the changing nature of the DEI team and the IRT, IRT members were not able to participate in “train the trainer” opportunities in 2019. This will be one focus of the group in 2020.
All Staff, Attorneys, Associate Attorneys, and Board represent data for Jan. 1, 2020. New Hires represent data for calendar year 2019. Additional demographic data can be found in the 2019 DEI Report Card.
Earthjustice collects demographic data in accordance with the annual reporting requirements from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The categories of data we collect with respect to gender, race / ethnicity, and job grouping are all determined by the EEOC. We recognize that this data is reflective of only certain aspects of diversity. Earthjustice also tracks and reports this data on an ongoing basis to GuideStar.