Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Reporting and Transparency

Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Reporting and Transparency
Originally published: 
January, 2018

Dr. Dorceta Taylor, James E. Crowfoot Collegiate Professor and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, released a new report on diversity and transparency in environmental organizations. Taylor helped codify the field of Environmental Justice as a Yale graduate student in the 1990s and is now a world-renowned Environmental Justice scholar.

The new report builds on Taylor’s 2014 State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations report, which analyzed the racial and gender diversity for the staff of mainstream environmental nonprofits, government environmental agencies, and environmental grantmaking foundations. Her 2014 report called for increased public reporting of demographic data by environmental organizations, and urged institutions to say what types of diversity-related activities they undertake.

This report, Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Reporting and Transparency, presents the findings from a study of 2,057 environmental organizations. From October 2016 to December 2017, the study used GuideStar Premium and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990 to collect demographic, diversity, and financial information on 2,057 environmental organizations. The sample includes 28 different types of environmental organizations that completed GuideStar profiles between 2011 and 2016.

The study—supported by the University of Michigan, the C.S. Mott Foundation, and the JPB Foundation—is the first in a series of four. Subsequent reports will address race and gender of top environmental executives, salary information correlated with demographics, and analysis of Guidestar usage by HR professionals in environmental organizations.

The study found that only 14.5% of environmental organizations report any diversity data through Guidestar. Less than 4% report specifically on racially diversity with the organization.

Key findings include:

  • Whites comprise more than 80% of the board members of the groups studied.
  • Whites constitute more than 85% of the staff of environmental nonprofits.
  • Males occupy about 62% of the board positions but comprise less than half of the staff of the organizations.

Research Assistant Jessica Robinson, a master’s student in SEAS, said, "It has been interesting to see the analysis come together. I’ve learned that lack of data is data in itself. For example, the fact that we see less reporting from organizations with smaller budgets shines a spotlight on budget priorities."