A startling new survey confirms what many have observed: For all the bluster about championing diversity, environmental groups are about as segregated and exclusive as it gets.
Over the years, those who’ve skimmed my columns from time to time have undoubtedly noticed that a complaint I frequently reference is the intransigent nature of the animal rights, vegetarian and environmental advocacy movements, none of which seem to exhibit even the slightest tendency toward moderation or compromise.
Most of the partisans lined up against animal agriculture see their ideological lockstep as a strength, but in fact it is the single most difficult barrier to overcome in terms of advancing real reforms in animal handling, food safety and environmental protection.
Now, we have empirical data that at least partially explain why environmental activists seem to always be singing not only from the same hymnal but the very same note.
A recent study of 191 conservation and preservation organizations, 74 government environmental agencies and 28 grantmaking environmental foundations “focused primarily on gender, racial and class diversity as it pertains to the demographic characteristics of their [governing] boards and staff” uncovered numbers that belie the claims about their progressive policies that eco-activists love to trumpet.
The analysis was commissioned by Green 2.0, a working group formed to address diversity issues in the environmental movement, and the final report, titled, “The States of Diversity in Environmental Organizations,” offers some sobering data on the lack of diversity among environmental organizations, although the numbers are hardly a surprise to anybody who’s attended partisan events or been personally engaged with such groups.
Here are a few bullet point summaries provide by the researcher herself, Prof. Dorceta E. Taylor, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment:
- Although environmental institutions have made gains in terms of adding diversity, it’s been mostly by hiring Caucasian women, who now account for more than half of 1,714 leadership positions, 60% of the new hires and the majority of executive directorships in grantmaking foundations
- Men are still more likely than women to occupy the most powerful positions ; the presidents of the largest eco-groups (budgets > $1 million) are 90% male
- The percentage of ethnic and racial minorities on staff or on boards of environmental organizations is less than 16%, with most concentrated in the lower ranks
- The members of these organization—a total of 3.2 million people—are predominantly white, as are the vast majority of their volunteers