THE DEMOGRAPHIC SHIFT IS Here
People of color care about the environment too
- People of color are disproportionately impacted by pollution. A 2012 study conducted by Yale University researchers revealed that "potentially dangerous compounds such as vanadium, nitrates and zinc” exist in communities where people of color live, even though they typically did not cause the pollution. As the Washington Post stated in the article, "Within Mainstream Environmentalist Groups, Diversity is Lacking," "today, minority communities — black, Latino and Native American — along with low-income white neighborhoods still bear a disproportionate burden of the nation’s toxic pollution. They are in the shadows of petrochemical plants and coal-fired power plants, the nation’s greatest source of stationary pollution, according to the Congressional Research Service."
- People of color and other diverse communities strongly support environmental and conservation issues. People of color comprise approximately 38% of the population, and represent a majority population already in five states. "Can you imagine if the environmental movement was effective at engaging people of color and leveraging their substantial support and talents? Millions of new supporters would surely translate into more political victories for the environment, more public support, more members, a larger volunteer base, richer partnerships and more financial support," says Marcelo Bonta, the Founder and Director of the Center for Diversity & the Environment.
Yet, engagement & employment barriers persist
A July 14, 2014 report, "The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies," by Dr. Dorceta E. Taylor, Ph.D., surveyed nearly 300 environmental organization. The report also included confidential interviews with 21 environmental leaders from a range of diverse backgrounds and experiences. The report had three major findings:
- A "Green Ceiling" limits workforce advancement for diverse staff.
- Unconscious bias and insular recruiting is a barrier to diversity recruitment and retention.
- There is lackluster interest in making workforce diversity a priority.
The report stated that, "for decades, environmental organizations have stressed the value of diversity; however, the diversity composition has not broken the 16 percent green ceiling." The result is "an overwhelmingly white 'Green Insiders Club.'"