Earthjustice’s DEI Report Card

Earthjustice is a nonprofit environmental law organization working to address today’s environmental challenges. Their main focus areas are: the preservation of the wild for current and future generations, safeguarding the fundamentals of human health (air, food, water) to provide for healthy communities, and ending reliance on fossil fuels and working to secure a clean energy future. They are currently pursuing nearly 400 active legal cases.

      

     KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Developing a DEI Report Card system forces organizations to remain accountable for and successful in achieving DEI goals.

 

  • Successfully fulfilling DEI plan requires commitment towards and involvement in achieving specific DEI goals from every level of a company.

 

 

Where other organizations have been unable to hold themselves accountable when they fail to meet diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals, Earthjustice’s 2016 DEI plan has distinguished itself as a leader in organizational accountability through the use of a report card system. Earthjustice’s 2016 report card system reviews the original objective of the DEI plan, summarizes what was accomplished, and contains ratings for progress made on each objective with the goal of creating new objectives and accountability metrics to be used in their 2017 DEI plan.

In January 2016, Earthjustice created a DEI plan, laying out the organization’s internal and external goals for the upcoming calendar year. After several previous initiatives to promote diversity, the 2016 DEI plan was Earthjustice’s first comprehensive attempt to address issues surrounding diversity. The plan set tangible objectives and contained detailed metrics for accountability, something that there had been a clear desire from within the organization.

The 2016 Report Card addresses seven goals the organization hoped to achieve in the 2016 calendar year: Hiring, Promotions, Partners & Clients, Donors & Funders, Culture, Training, and Employee Engagement.  These goals were directly informed by a widespread listening tour with individuals and small groups across the organization and two previous years of employee satisfaction questionnaires and demographic data. This listening tour was held with the goal of determining what the highest priorities for DEI improvement were in the organization, and found that there was widespread desire in creating a metric through which the organization could be held accountable for failures in improving diversity.

Each goal listed in the 2016 DEI plan and Report Card featured primary objectives and accountability matrices, which determine how much progress was made on the given objective. Each matrix rates the objectives as having been accomplished, ongoing, or not met. To accomplish the seven goals laid out in the DEI plan, Earthjustice created voluntary working groups for each goal in which 61 staff members took part.

These working groups found dramatic success in achieving these goals, which were specifically tailored to Earthjustice following the organization-wide listening tour. The listening tour allowed Earthjustice’s DEI team to create goals for the plan that were both realistic, and specifically responding to concerns from members of the Earthjustice staff. Of the 22 objectives listed in the 2016 DEI Plan, 10 are rated in the report card as accomplished, signifying that the objective was met, and 12 are rated as ongoing, signifying that substantive work has been completed, but further steps are required to operationalize the recommendations as an institutional practice. These clear cut outcomes will help guide Earthjustice’s future DEI plans, so that any ongoing objectives can be addressed.

Earthjustice points to this widespread passion for and participation in its DEI working groups as being a necessary part of its success in moving forward on various actionable items in its DEI plan. At least one member of senior organizational leadership took part in every one of the 7 working groups, which they found crucial due to their decision-making authority, which allowed the working groups to bring their projects into reality. The working groups, however, sought to remain diverse in terms of both tenure and titles of staff members participating, featuring members ranging from entry level staffers to senior leadership.

For other organizations that want to replicate Earthjustice’s success, the organization strongly recommends that others utilize similarly collaborative, open, and accountable systems to achieve DEI goals. Organizations should remain in tune and listening to the disparate needs of employees, and working collaboratively with every level of the organization to determine which goals can reasonably be reached to remedy unequitable situations.

See Earthjustice’s 2016 DEI report card here. To learn more about Earthjustice’s report card system and DEI plan, contact Charles (Chas) Lopez, Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion, at clopez@earthjustice.org; Shavonne Saroyan, Assistant to the President, at ssaroyan@earthjustice.org; or Romy LaMarche, DEI Project Manager, at rlamarche@earthjustice.org.