2018 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Action Plan
2018 DEI Action Plan
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, 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.
The following assessment summarizes what was accomplished in the 2018 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).
Attract and hire a diverse and multi-culturally sensitive staff
Building and retaining a diverse and culturally competent staff is critical to our mission. In recent years, Earthjustice increased its focus on making our hiring processes more equitable, motivated in part by well-placed internal feedback.
Over the past three years, thanks to the efforts of our Human Resources and DEI teams, DEI working group #1 and others across the organization, we have made significant strides by creating guidelines and resources for more equitable hiring practices. These include: creating mandatory training for all hiring committee members to address implicit bias; compiling interview questions to assess cultural competency and emotional intelligence; and creating guidelines to ensure diverse hiring committee composition.
While we acknowledge important gains, we are also cognizant that more work is needed. The heaviest gains in diversifying our staff have been concentrated in junior staff positions — for example, our associate attorneys are 48% people of color, while our overall attorney makeup is 25% people of color. One of our near-term goals is to continue to increase diverse hiring across the organization, as well as to ensure that we equitably retain, develop, and promote current staff. Now that we have established best practices for equitable hiring processes, we must ensure that all employees involved in hiring are utilizing those processes. We have been implementing new accountability measures to ensure that hiring managers understand and follow these best practices.
- To help ensure clear expectations, a checklist has been created to guide hiring managers through the hiring process. To promote accountability, hiring managers are now required to secure Vice President sign-off at key stages in the hiring process.
- Our HR team is partnering with hiring managers throughout the hiring process to make sure a job is advertised in a diverse array of venues, to check that the diversity of the candidate and interview pool are both reflective of the demographics of the relevant field and geographical area. Our DEI team frequently partners with hiring managers to provide guidance on understanding and following equitable hiring practices.
- Our leadership team recently established a monthly all-supervisor meetings, and the subject of our first all-supervisor meeting in November 2018 was mandatory hiring best practices. Members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), along with staff from our HR team, used this opportunity to clarify and set expectations around our equitable hiring guidelines.
Transparency and accountability are at the center of our work, and we publicly track our staff demographic data and will continue to hold ourselves accountable based on this and other important metrics.
- Assess how the hiring guidelines are being implemented and provide any needed clarification and guidance.
The working group created a survey for current employees who have participated in hiring groups, but before moving forward with this project, we decided we should focus first on compliance with existing guidelines and accountability for hiring managers.
- Broaden potential new hire applicant pool by increasing outreach to different colleges, law schools, programs, communities, and professional organizations.
The working group created a list of resources and recommendations intended to broaden our potential new hire applicant pools. These resources are available to all staff and address the following topics: 1) Mid-West expansion and outreach; 2) Target Schools; 3) Annual Diversity Job Fairs; 4) Professional Organizations; and 5) Communities. These recommendations offer additional outreach ideas and strategies for regional offices and hiring teams to develop pipelines and build relationships across the nation. These recommendations will be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.
Review current promotional pathways
Equitable and transparent promotional pathways and professional development opportunities are critical to staff retention. Working group #2 has been assessing the ongoing need for staff development and creating written guidelines to ensure consistency in promotional processes across the organization. In 2016, the group assessed organization-wide needs for professional development, leading to the creation of a centralized professional development fund that allocates approximately $1,000 per staff member annually. In 2017, the working group created written guidelines detailing the process and requirements for staff to be promoted in order to create consistency and equity across the organization.
In 2018, we decided to staff working group #2 within HR with engagement from senior leadership. Currently, the group is working to create clearly documented “job families,” which clarify the pathway for growth and advancement for any given role, so that promotional pathways are transparent to staff and supervisors. One of the job families with the largest number of staff is that of office manager/legal practice administrator. This job family was finalized in 2018. Over the course of 2018, 63 staff members were promoted, and the diversity of the organization overall is well-represented among those promoted.
As Earthjustice grows, the need for clear pathways and expectations for promotions is ever more critical to equitably recognize the development of staff members. We strive to be an organization where staff in every department can feel confident that their hard work and growth will be recognized and rewarded.
- Finalize and publish a list of job families, as created by Human Resources and SLT, which will define the various levels within each family (e.g. Litigation Assistant I and Litigation Assistant II).
Several job families have been developed and shared with respective staff (e.g. Legal Practice Administrators) while other job families are in progress. These job families include various job levels with clear career paths. A project manager has been brought on to partner with HR and managers and oversee the process of finalizing additional job families. Job families will be published to the organization as they are completed, with the aim of completing all job families by 2020.
Increase partnerships that could lead to the representation of new clients and a more diverse client base
Without our local, national, and international partnerships, we can neither adequately nor authentically fight environmental injustice.
In recognition of partnership as one of our core values, working group #3 has made strides towards effectively expanding diverse partnerships. The working group conducted assessments within each of our regional offices to better understand the needs of our staff with regard to partnership-building. Based on the results of this assessment, working group #3 has created and disseminated several resources, including a detailed partnership toolkit, and has hosted plenaries addressing these needs with staff. The working group has also developed resources for our partner organizations to build their own internal capacity.
The goals of working group #3 are further advanced by Earthjustice’s Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2019–2022, which financially commits our organization to strengthening diverse partnerships. We have recently created a dedicated program for Community-Based Initiatives, led by Managing Attorney Angela Johnson Meszaros, and we are growing her team to undertake work with frontline communities and partner with staff across the organization to do the same.
We are also in the process of deepening our relationships with Native American communities. We hired a Director of Tribal Partnerships, who will oversee a team that is fully dedicated to developing and carrying forward work that advances the goals of our Native American partners.
- Develop a process to build the capacity of our partners through trainings — hosted by the organization at Earthjustice — regarding topics such as fundraising, social media, communications, and permits.
The working group created a draft survey to solicit input on community partners’ needs for social media training. We will circulate the survey to partners in early 2019 and use the input to inform the sessions, which we will roll out in 2019. The group is also working with Healthy Communities attorneys to develop air permitting and Clean Air Act trainings for community partners. We provided the first permitting training to staff internally in May 2018, and we will be replicating the training for external community partners in 2019.
- Continue with the creation and dissemination of a Client Survey to assess Earthjustice’s performance regarding cultural competency and respectful partnership building.
The working group has evaluated options for conducting a poll of historically underserved clients to evaluate our organization’s cultural competency and ability to build respectful and productive partnerships. We will contract with an outside contractor to administer the survey in 2019.
- Fully utilize the partnership toolkit through better communication and training, including visiting regional offices/programs to promote the toolkit.
The working group has organized a series of partnership presentations for all staff, which include a formal introduction to the partnership toolkit. The trainings, which took place in January and February 2019, have kicked off the process of selecting individuals in each office, department, and program to champion the use of the toolkit in their team’s work.
Develop a 21st-century donor constituency and expand portfolio of donors/funders to make it possible to take on new partners and clients
Earthjustice recognizes that our DEI commitments must be integral to all our work, including our fundraising. This includes working to diversify our donor base, as well as ensuring that our communications to potential donors are thoughtful and inclusive.
Working group #4 recognized early on, in 2016, the necessity of focusing not only on Earthjustice’s internal fundraising, but also on how we share fundraising knowledge and capacity. As one of the nation’s larger environmental organizations, Earthjustice has a responsibility to promote the equitable distribution of fundraising resources.
In 2017, we decided to staff working group #4 from within the Development department, with the recognition that those tasked with doing our fundraising work would have the most intimate knowledge about how to improve it. Over the past several years, the Development team has made a number of improvements. We have identified and incorporates targeted DEI goals into the work plans of each Development team, including, for example, the rebranding of the mid-level giving program to be more inclusive and aligned with our values. This effort was completed in 2018.
In addition, over the past several years, we have made considerable progress to help our partner and client organizations build their fundraising capacity. In 2018, the Development department completed a toolkit to be made available to partners and clients in order to increase their fundraising capacity. The toolkit, a 30-page document, covers all the basics of fundraising and development, and includes templates, examples, and best practices.
- Finalize and disseminate Development Toolkit to our partners to increase their capacity regarding development practices.
We finalized the Development Toolkit, and we have shared it with a group of close partners. The Development team will distribute it more widely in 2019.
- Rebrand the organization’s mid-level donor program.
The Outreach and Membership Services team has rebranded our mid-level donor program to “Justice Partners,” previously known as the William O. Douglas Society, and we will be launching our first rebranded materials to our mid-level donors in early fiscal year 2020.
- Assess outreach strategies to all donors at all giving levels.
Each Development team has reviewed its outreach strategies, and each team is in the process of implementing changes to advance our DEI goals. For example, the mid-level donor program has plans to focus its materials on donor-centrism, and the major gifts program has set clear diversity goals for recruiting to the Earthjustice Council.
Improve employee satisfaction, engagement, culture of trust, support, respect, and inclusion
Earthjustice knows that investing in our staff is critical to building an equitable and inclusive organizational culture that advances our mission. To that end, working group #5 has designed and implemented several initiatives to create an inclusive internal culture and increase employee engagement and satisfaction.
In the past three years, this working group has brought staff together to celebrate our Peer Nomination Awards, where we recognize employees selected by their peers as colleagues who embody the best of Earthjustice and its values, such as the Justice Warrior and Leader By Example. Working group #5 also created and continues to support the Building Understanding through Discussion and Sharing (BUDS) program. This voluntary initiative pairs employees with a colleague outside of their immediate team and/or office to provide an opportunity to get to know each other as individuals and create community among our geographically dispersed staff. To help provide structure to these and similar programs, working group #5 developed guidelines for ongoing employee engagement and recognition.
Employees in and outside of the working group are also actively engaged in creating an inclusive environment, with many staff members participating in employee affinity and resource groups, such as GreenPOC, Out & Green, and the newly formed White Allies, Disability Justice at Earthjustice, and Latinx groups. Additionally, staff regularly attend our monthly speaker series, allowing us to welcome voices from outside Earthjustice to celebrate and learn about diverse cultures, traditions, and experiences. We also host a Resiliency Speaker Series, created to thoughtfully address the topics of intersectionality, resiliency, and self-care with staff.
As part of our work toward achieving our DEI goals, we recognize that it is important to offer resources for staff support and resiliency. To support relationship building and resiliency among staff of color, Earthjustice has partnered with a consultant who has designed material specifically aimed at growing trust and solidarity in our organization. Staff of color interested in participating in this work will convene in small groups that meet regularly to discuss the material, while growing an internal support network.
In support of our goal of creating a more inclusive and equitable internal culture, supervisors from across each office and program have begun meeting monthly to address concerns and share best practices for effective and equitable supervision.
- Engage in cross-office learning about what the regional offices and headquarters are doing regarding their internal culture.
After interviewing one or more staff members from each of Earthjustice’s offices based on a list of questions, the working group created a summary with key takeaways and themes to inform culture-building efforts across the organization. The summary synthesized information about each office’s internal culture and revealed similarities that exist organization-wide. The group shared the summary with the entire organization and provided examples of how events are organized, funded, and attended in each office.
- Continue the yearly BUDS (Building Understanding through Discussion and Sharing) program.
In 2018, the BUDS Program had 68 participants, which was a slight decrease in participants from the year prior. However, the refinements made to the program include a streamlined process for pairing and an active role in providing information about the program for all new hires. These modifications have succeeded in creating an effective program. We believe a more interactive internal advertising of the program might increase participation in 2019.
- In addition to continuing with the annual Peer Nomination Awards, determine how we can express appreciation on an ongoing basis.
This group is in the process of establishing reimbursable lunches for staff. These one-hour lunches will allow staff members to build relationships and learn from one another. These lunches have been budgeted for the remainder of fiscal year 2019, and sign-up for these lunches will occur on a continuous basis.
Expand life-long learning program for all employees
Earthjustice believes that learning is a lifelong journey, and this belief guides our diversity, equity, and inclusion training initiatives.
To build collective understanding around diversity, working group #6 selected vendors to facilitate DEI trainings for all staff. Last year, this working group expanded into a 15-person Internal Resource Team (IRT) that worked closely with an outside vendor to orchestrate and administer regional 2-day in-person DEI trainings for all staff in 2018. These 2-day DEI trainings were an important step toward creating a common language around our DEI challenges and goals, utilizing both theory and practice. Feedback collected from staff after the trainings make it clear that, moving forward, a one-size-fits-all approach to training may no longer make sense for our growing organization. 2018 was also the first year that Earthjustice dedicated a full day to DEI training during our All Staff Meeting. This training was a small step towards creating personalized learning for staff, as it offered various skill-building breakout sessions and race caucusing opportunities. The IRT will continue to assess training opportunities to address the diverse needs of the organization, working with individual teams and offices to connect them to relevant and responsive training. Going forward, new staff joining the organization will participate in off-site, immersive DEI training that builds on the curriculum of our 2-day trainings in 2018.
We also recognize the importance of continued learning outside of DEI trainings. To complement our DEI work, we have begun offering restorative justice as a tool available to staff to address interpersonal and organizational conflict within Earthjustice, as well as offer spaces of healing, accountability, and a forward vision. Earthjustice leadership is also committed to expanding learning opportunities to employees outside of trainings. Thus, each team and office is required to have a facilitated discussion about team-specific DEI issues. Additionally, every Earthjustice supervisor is required to work with a coach to build their skills for inclusively managing diverse teams.
- Continue the 3-year comprehensive organizational DEI training plan and develop mechanism for capturing feedback.
In the first year, 2018, the working group expanded into a 15-person Internal Resource Team that helped conduct two-day DEI trainings for each office. The 2018 DEI trainings culminated in a daylong DEI training during our All Staff Meeting. For year 2, the IRT is considering training options for 2019, taking into consideration feedback received after individual office trainings and the ASM training, as well as input from DEI facilitators contracting with Earthjustice.
- Assess current role of the Internal Resource Team and the potential for expanding duties to include, for example, facilitation and consultation.
The IRT will continue to help connect teams and offices to relevant DEI training in 2019. Once we identify additional all staff trainings for 2019, we expect to call on the tremendous capacity developed by the IRT members.
All Staff, Attorneys, Associate Attorneys, and Board represent data for Jan. 1, 2019. New Hires represent data for calendar year 2018. Additional demographic data can be found in the 2018 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.
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