To do our work effectively, our programs and actions must be relevant, responsive, and accountable to the places and people we serve. As a historically white-led environmental education organization, we recognize the legacy of racism and injustice within our field, and understand that we have perpetuated and benefited from racism. It is our responsibility to use our unearned privileges to combat racism and stand with those fighting for justice.
Staff members have been prioritizing the advancement of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) within IslandWood’s work for some time. In 2019, we formally made commitments to operationalize JEDI principles throughout the organization, in all aspects of our work, and laid out specific priorities to move this work forward. We are committed to the work required to make continual progress on our goals and to being held accountable to these goals.
In 2019, as part of our ongoing equity work, IslandWood made the commitment to focus in particular on race equity. We are focusing on race equity, not because we believe other inequities don’t exist or aren’t vitally important, but because in the United States one’s race – more than any other factor – is the biggest determinant of educational outcomes, wealth, health, exposure to environmental pollutants and hazards, and life expectancy.
We understand there is an inextricable connection between educational justice, environmental justice, and racial equity. This work is not ancillary, or “outside” of IslandWood’s mission. It is central to our work in environmental education, and of inspiring healthy communities and a healthy planet.
To ensure that our programs are equitable and relevant, we believe that our staff must reflect the racial demographics of the communities we serve. And, as a predominantly white-led organization, we understand that we have work to do. Learn more about the racial makeup of our staff and board here.
For the 2023 fiscal year (July 2022 – June 2023), as an organization our primary focus is our continued involvement and work in the Working Towards Racial Equity 2-year series with The Lawrence Hall of Science & Justice Outside. The workshop series is aimed at supporting environmental and outdoor science organizations in building their capacity to foster equitable, inclusive, and culturally relevant work environments and organizations. Each department also has their own JEDI goals, and you can read about some of their past work here.
Below are our three primary JEDI goals for fiscal year 2021 (July 2020 – June 2021). Click here for more information on each of these goals and our progress in working toward them.
Our plan for fiscal year 2019 (July 2018 – June 2019) included the following five organizational goals for advancing JEDI. Below are the goals and also our progress toward completing them.
Being able to articulate why equity work is a strategic imperative for achieving our mission is a critical next step for us. This effort is underway and should be ready to share publicly in the Spring 2019.
Update on goal: We cannot have thriving, sustainable communities or a thriving, sustainable planet without equity embedded in our communities. This goal led to our commitment to building a race equity culture at IslandWood.
Recognizing the abundance of resources already in existence to support organizations like ours, our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Council recommended Awake to Woke to Work for adoption. This toolkit is designed to help nonprofits build a race equity culture. Our Leadership Team will now undertake the work of adapting the toolkit to IslandWood.
Update on goal: We adopted the Awake to Woke to Work toolkit and our departments are in various stages of implementing or adapting the toolkit to their particular work. This work strongly influenced our fiscal 2020 priorities.
Since 2015, all teams at IslandWood have completed annual Cultural Capacity Professional Growth Plans. While this process has led to growth, it has largely been completed in isolation from operational goal setting. By integrating equity goals with operational goals, we will build in greater accountability.
Update on goal: Our Human Resources team created a new performance assessment tool that prompts conversation and leads to setting individual JEDI goals for all staff members. It will be rolled out in fiscal year 2020.
We’ve noticed that the teams that are effectively reducing bias and advancing equitable practices are led by directors and senior leaders who are prioritizing this work for themselves and their teams. We want to ensure our leadership team has a shared understanding and commitment to equity work, and that they are on personal journeys to examine their biases, assumptions, and role in systems of inequity and oppression.
Update on goal: We held two half-day equity trainings led by Fleur Larson Facilitation for staff on our leadership team and all staff in managerial or supervisory roles.
Like many nonprofits who are trying to get a lot done with limited resources, our hiring practices are largely decentralized. Because of this, it’s possible that equity is a focus for one position, while not for another. This year we will establish norms that will include changes to the recruitment, interview, selection, and onboarding processes to ensure equity is operationalized throughout and across all teams.
Update on goal: Our HR team established norms and made a significant amount of changes in our processes, including centralizing the hiring process; prioritizing POC candidates specifically for opportunities where non-POC staff are dominant; offering IslandWood application form as an option for applicants who do not have a formal resume; all applicants are asked to respond to a general JEDI question and do not advance to interview phase if their response does not indicate a commitment to social justice equity, diversity and inclusion; salary range and work schedule are clearly stated on all job postings; job descriptions focus on what is required for position, without excessive experience and education requirements; investment in advertising to expand job listings to reach a larger POC applicant pool; reducing number of staff at interviews; when practical including the HR Director in interviews as a voice of IslandWood, for objective observation and interview feedback; and providing open enrollment benefits packages in Spanish.
IslandWood does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy, genetic information, marital status, amnesty, or status as a covered veteran. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all guests, students, members of staff, clients, volunteers, and vendors.