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Diversity Pathways: Broadening Participation in Environmental Organizations

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This document presents the findings of a study that examines programming in environmental organizations. The goal is to find out (a) how many institutions have diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) pathway programming; (b) what kinds of programs exist; (c) where are organizations with diversity programs located; and (d) what kinds of support existing programs provide. We analyzed 1039 environmental organizations and found diversity pathway programs in 173 (16.7%) of them. Of those, 138 (13.3%) of the institutions have one pathway program, while 35 (3.4%) of them have two or more programs. In all, we found a total of 235 diversity pathway programs. We found a wide variety of programs in urban and rural areas that catered to a range of demographic groups. We will attempt to identify gaps in programming and suggest future courses of action.
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... The benefits of a diverse workforce have been well documented, as demographically diverse groups are likely to be more innovative than homogenous groups (van der Vegt, 2003). However, while employment in environmental fields grows, women and Latinx, Black, and Indigenous people remain underrepresented in these professions (Taylor, 2018c). ...
... Many organizations have established environmental pathway programs to prepare participants from underrepresented groups for the 'next step' toward a career in environmental fields. In one report, of 1039 environmental organizations studied, 17% offered diversity pathway programs targeting a variety of age groups (Taylor, 2018c). Other environmental pathway programs are developed through partnerships between school districts and universities. ...
... Such programs may provide learning experiences for elementary through high school students to develop interest prior to these students determining their career path. Some of the strengths and gaps of environmental organization pathway programming have been identified; for example, while there exist programs to target participants of all racial, socioeconomic, and gender identities, and while 23.4% of programs have a leadership or career development component, post-program support is generally lacking across these programs (Taylor, 2018c). ...
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... In making their arguments, Krupp, Norman, and others who suggested that minorities were not interested in the environment, did not provide any evidence to support their claims. They were also ignoring studies of ethnic minority students and other people of color that show strong interest in working in the environmental workforce [15][16][17]. By the time environmental justice activists penned the letter to the New York Times and the big green groups, people of color had formed grassroots environmental groups all over the country. ...
... Consequently, studies continue to show that people of color are interested in working in environmental nonprofits [10,17,[19][20][21][22]. People of color reject the disinterest thesis and argue, instead, that there are structural factors such as poor recruitment, discrimination, cultural isolation, lack of mentoring, and limited promotions that contribute to the low levels of ethnic minorities in the environmental workforce [22]. ...
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