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Comprehensive Report Examines Why Decades of Promises to Diversify are Falling Short in the Mainstream Environmental Movement; Green Leaders Respond  

Washington, DC - A new report finds that although people of color now account for more than a third of the U.S. population, they have not broken the 16 percent “green ceiling” in mainstream environmental organizations. These dismal numbers exist despite the fact that people of color support environmental protections at a higher rate than whites. “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies” also finds that the sector has done little to institute practices that would bridge the diversity gap even though most environmental organizations have indicated that they value diversity.  

Unconscious bias, discrimination, and insular recruiting practices were found to be the three major challenges to hiring, retaining and promoting diverse talent in the mainstream organizations. Organizations either do not recognize or have been unwilling to act on initiatives that will make them more welcoming to people of color. They have also shown relatively little interest in partnering with and funding organizations that represent people of color.  

“Numbers don’t lie,” said report author Dorceta E. Taylor, Ph.D. “People of color only represent 12% of staff at foundations, 15.5% of staff at government agencies and 12.4% of staff in mainstream environmental NGOs, and none of the largest organizations had a president, vice president or assistant/associate director who was an ethnic or racial minority.  Even more troubling, although most survey respondents expressed interest in bridging this glaring diversity gap, they admit that their organizations are unlikely to take the necessary steps to do so.”  

To close the diversity gap, the report recommends instituting transparent tracking mechanisms to measure progress, integrating diversity goals into performance evaluations and grant-making criteria, and increasing resources for diversity efforts and supporting existing leaders of color.  

“Diversity statements without a plan and rigorous data collection are just words on paper,” said Robert Raben, founder of The Raben Group.  “It is time for the environmental movement as a whole to tackle their diversity problem and to see this moment, and the findings of this report, as an opportunity to drive real and lasting change.”  

Today also marks the launch of Green 2.0, an initiative dedicated to increasing racial diversity across mainstream environmental NGOs, foundations and government agencies. Green 2.0 commissioned the Taylor Report.  

“Green 2.0 will provide a sustained drumbeat to move the mainstream environmental movement toward increasing opportunities for people of color and a climate where talented leaders from all backgrounds can thrive,” said Green 2.0’s Danielle Deane, principal at The Raben Group. “This effort is the result of a year of painstaking effort and is here to stay. Green 2.0 will push for increased accountability and work to ensure more diverse candidates are considered and represented at the highest levels of the mainstream environmental movement.”

“The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies,” its executive summary and highlights are available for download at  


Statements about “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies” (Listed alphabetically by Last Name) 

-- Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council 

“There is one message we all must take from this report: The environmental community has to do more. Without collective action to create inclusive workplaces, broaden our community partnerships and diversify our voice, we will not be equipped to confront the great environmental problems of our time.”


-- Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director

"The Sierra Club is proud to have supported this survey and we are determined to help shine a light on what still needs to be done to make sure the environmental movement includes everyone who cares about clean air and water," said Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director. "That is why we are working hard to ensure our organization looks like America, and taking that issue head-on through our environmental justice program, rigorous staff training, recruitment, and other channels. The Sierra Club is focused on and committed to engaging with diverse communities in the fight to ensure a just and clean environment for all, but there is no question we have a long way to go in becoming a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization."


-- The Honorable Rodney Ellis, Texas State Senate and Chair, Commission to Engage African Americans on Energy, Climate Change and the Environment

The Taylor Report, Commissioned by Green 2.0, "The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies," shows that mainstream environmental organization and their funders need to do more to address serious diversity concerns and the resulting effects.  

I encourage every foundation and NGO to read the report, assess their current culture, recruiting, and retention efforts, and take urgent action to address shortcomings in diversity.  

After all, African Americans bear the burden of environmental injustice, as our communities face disproportionate exposures to pollution, toxins, and the unfolding climate crisis.  In order to collectively tackle serious environmental problems in these communities, we should also support and advance diversity in the environmental professional ranks.


-- Van Jones, bestselling author, The Green-Collar Economy

“Green groups see the importance of measuring and reporting on ecological diversity externally. They should embrace -- with equal passion -- the call to measure and report demographic diversity internally. No monochrome coalition can ever win a green future. Only a rainbow-colored coalition can do that. Today’s Taylor Report, “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies,” shows that we all need to do more."


-- Freada Kapor Klein, PhD, co-chair of the Kapor Center on Social Impact. She is an entrepreneur, activist and leader in the field of organizational culture and diversity.

“There needs to be a wider effort to attract and retain people of color in environmental organizations. Foundations and NGOs alike must assess their current culture, recruiting and retention efforts; support tracking and transparency of data, and take urgent action to address biases and barriers that impede diversity. The environmental community should be the leading edge not the trailing edge of diversity efforts.”


-- Representative Ben Ray Lujan (NM-3)  

“A healthy environment is essential to the well-being of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender.  That is why it is vital that the organizations that are doing the important work of advocating for a healthier environment for our communities reflect the diversity within those very communities.  Given the fact that communities of color are disproportionally impacted by environmental hazards, it is essential that these organizations include more voices from people of color at every level. 

“I applaud the efforts to highlight the need for diversity within the environmental movement and the extensive research that went into this report.  Having an accurate picture of the state of diversity is vital to recognizing the need to make diversity a priority and making positive strides within this sector.  I thank all the organizations that participated in this report, and encourage every environmental organization to heed its results and work to see that they better reflect our country as a whole.”


-- Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice President

"We believe this report is critically needed and very timely. Our movement and indeed our own organization have a serious problem in that we don't yet reflect the rich diversity of our nation, or even the diversity of groups we represent in our work to protect the environment for all people. Environmental burdens and benefits are not distributed equitably, and our passion for justice compels us to address these disparities in our legal work. But to fully realize justice, we must change from within.  

"This report makes clear the need to close the gap between what we say and what we do. It's telling us that we must get even more serious now about removing this 'green ceiling.' Earthjustice supports the work of Green 2.0 and is proud to have helped fund this report. We know that we have to tackle these issues head on in order to effect real change. We have begun this important work, taking steps to diversify our staff, our leadership, our board, and the client groups we represent. Our board and our staff have a shared commitment to diversity, and the board has a designated liaison on our staff Diversity Management Team. Still, we have much more work to do. We are committed to holding ourselves accountable and acting on the recommendations of this report."



“The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies,” is the most comprehensive report on diversity in the mainstream environmental movement. The report was authored by Dorceta E. Taylor, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment.  The Taylor Report surveyed 191 environmental non-profits, 74 government environmental agencies, and 28 leading environmental grant making foundations to investigate their gender and racial diversity composition, the majority of which state diversification as a value. It includes confidential interviews of 21 environmental leaders with diverse backgrounds and experience.  


The report was commissioned by Green 2.0, an initiative dedicated to increasing racial diversity across mainstream environmental NGOs, foundations and government agencies. 

Green 2.0 working group members: (Organizations listed for affiliation purposes only)  

Alaina Beverly (University of Chicago); Angela Park (Mission Critical); Don Chen (Ford Foundation); Donna Hope (Institute for Market Transformation); Felicia Davis (Building Green Initiative at Clark Atlanta University);  Jalonne L. White-Newsome (WE ACT for Environmental Justice); Jenni LeBlanc (National Audubon Society); Kim Noble (Green for All); Leslie Fields (Sierra Club); Lisa Garcia (Earthjustice); Marcelo Bonta (Center for Diversity and the Environment); Mark Magaña (GreenLatinos); Michael Dorsey (Joint Center for Political And Economic Studies/Sierra Club); Mustafa Ali (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency); Patrice Simms (Howard University School of Law); Patrice Webb (The Webb and Flow Group); Quentin James (Vestige Strategies); Roger Rivera (National Hispanic Environmental Council); Shamar Bibbins (Independent Consultant); Stephanie Maddin (Earthjustice); Tracy Russ (Russ Communications); Vernice Miller-Travis (Maryland State Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities); Robert Raben, Danielle Deane, Gabriela Domenzain, Karen Marangi, Larry Gonzalez, Brenda Arredondo, Beth Lynk, Corey Walker, Alex Przybelski (The Raben Group)

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