The Need for RACIAL EQUITY
All too often we hear the phrase: "I am the only person of color there."
The effort to recruit and retain diverse, qualified candidates in environmental sustainability has been mostly good intentions without significant progress. According to the report "The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations"*, environmental organizations across the Great Lakes Region usually express interest in diversity initiatives but few are likely to support their implementation. The lack of momentum impedes people of color from taking advantage of rewarding internships, gainful employment, and effecting solutions to environmental hazards impacting their communities.
As environmental complexities effect all communities, the need for increased staff and leadership diversity will be imperative for a broadened and deepened impact of programs across the region. It will not happen quickly, but as with many other environmental challenges, we can continue working together towards practical, sustainable solutions.
EOC believes providing spaces for environmentalists of color to engage with each other supports their personal and professional growth while unifying a more equitable and inclusive environmental sector in the Chicago area because:
Formal and informal opportunities for environmentalists of color to connect are healing and empowering;
Connecting environmentalists of color leads to a people of color-driven strategy for centering racial equity in all environmental work;
Systemic and institutional change begin with individual empowerment and agency building;
A collective of environmentalists of color uplifts environmental narratives that have been excluded.