Human Diversity in The Nature Conservancy and Its Implications for Conservation: A First Look
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Population demographics in the United States are rapidly changing, and increasing workplace diversity will become crucial for the survival of many environmental organizations. Although The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a global organization and employs many people in different countries, it is also interested in increasing ethnic diversity in its offices in the United States. The purpose of this study is to look at ethnic diversity in TNC offices in the U.S., examine diversity challenges and successes at other environmental organizations, and provide suggestions for increasing the ethnic diversity in TNC. My specific research objectives are to determine (1) why people of color are underrepresented in the environmental field, (2) what makes TNC attractive or unattractive to people of color, (3) what the current relationship is between employees at TNC who represent communities of color and those who do not, (4) how TNC can engage more people of color, and (5) what TNC can do to improve retention of employees representing communities of color. I reviewed the literature on the demographics of the conservation movement, the history of people of color and the environment, and the challenges and successes other fields have had in trying to increase workplace diversity. I interviewed TNC employees, TNC high school and college interns, and employees at other environmental organizations to gather their opinions on how to enhance employee diversity in the environmental field. Suggestions for increasing and retaining diversity at TNC included short-term and long-term techniques to increase diversity. Short-term recommendations included active, rather than informal, recruiting, and better advertising of the wide variety of careers available at TNC. Long-term suggestions included increased outreach through a sequence of volunteer programs and internships involving students from elementary through post-secondary education, and fostering an inclusive atmosphere at TNC to attract more employees of color and improve employee retention. I conclude that a combination of both long term and short term techniques is best to increase diversity. The data will be used to inform TNC’s fledgling diversity initiative in the United States.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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