NEW YORK, N.Y. — Thursday, at an event at The New School in New York City, Green 2.0, the only organization solely dedicated to increasing racial diversity across mainstream environmental NGOs, foundations and government agencies, released its new report Diversity Derailed: Limited Demand, Effort and Results in Environmental C-Suite Searches. The research assesses the role of executive search firms in the extraordinary lack of diversity among environmental organization leadership.
Research by Green 2.0 and University of Michigan Professor Dorceta Taylor previously found that people of color hold just 12% of leadership staff positions and 4.6% of board seats at environmental NGOs and foundation. Diversity Derailed, by Maya Beasley of the University of Connecticut, examines the search firms often used to fill these high-level roles. Among the results, the research found are that 87.5% of search firms have encountered bias during past searches and 68.8% mandate a diverse slate only when their client prioritizes it.
The report also identifies best practices that organizations and search firms can use to increase diversity in their leadership hiring, including:
- Mandate diverse slates of candidates and diverse interview committees.
- Minimize bias in interviews by using pre-determined, job-relevant questions and focusing on the candidates’ responses.
- Track leaks in the hiring process pipeline and measure diversity at each step.
- Measure the process and outcomes.
“This report demonstrates that, very frequently, the relationship and conflicting goals between search firms and their environmental organization clients doom the chances of people of color. The leadership of the mainstream environmental movement remains startlingly white, and it will remain so if search firms and their clients do not make diversity a real priority–not one among a list of priorities, easily forgotten. I hope this report reveals both sides’ shared responsibility and that they immediately adopt the best practices we have identified. Our environmental challenges are too great to leave talent on the table.” said Green 2.0 founder Robert Raben.
“Environmental leaders of color have always understood the comment ‘we tried, but there was a lack of qualified candidates of color’ as an attempt to disguise structural barriers or a surprising lack of awareness of those barriers at best, or, at worse, racial bias. Search Firms, NGO’s, Foundations and Government Agencies, cannot continue to only consider the same handful of people of color that they see in the news regularly. We can do better and this report begins to track and name the systemic barriers to attaining diverse c-suite leadership that has plagued the environmental sector since its inception,” said Michelle DePass, Dean of The New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy; Tishman Professor of Environmental Policy and Management; and Director of the Tishman Environment and Design Center.
“I am beyond pleased to see what we know from experience documented by thoughtful, credible social scientists: you can only achieve diversity if you are intentional, and by remembering that doing what you’ve always done doesn’t accomplish different outcomes, even if your intentions are in the right place,” said Vincent Robinson, Founder & Managing Partner of The 360 Group.