Fostering racial and social justice in pursuit of our mission

Blog Post Justice & Equity
Published July 8, 2020

Charlotte Pera

Former President & CEO

Commitments the ClimateWorks Foundation is making to deepen our efforts on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.

The massive public outcry for racial justice in the U.S. and around the world creates an historic opportunity for long overdue change to dismantle systemic racism. At the ClimateWorks Foundation, we are driven by our vision of creating a thriving planet for all living beings for generations to come. At the center of this vision are people who are currently marginalized, including Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, who are most vulnerable to climate impacts, and whose voices, ideas, and leaders are crucial to winning the climate fight. Simply put, the future we strive for will be impossible to realize so long as systemic racism and anti-Blackness persist.

To this end, we have made a set of commitments across all dimensions of our work to further our mission and realize our vision. These commitments are a blend of current efforts we will strengthen and new actions we’re initiating. Our intent is to be a humble, change-minded partner in relentless pursuit of our mission and vision, and we will adapt this set of commitments over time as we continue to listen, learn, and act.

1. Enhancing Diversity and Enacting Cultural Change

ClimateWorks will expand the focus and impact of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative. For the past two years, this initiative has been driven by an internal task force comprising a cross-section of staff from diverse personal and professional backgrounds, with consulting support from InclusionVentures. This evolving initiative drives internal training sessions and dialogs, hiring and interviewing practices, and other activities to fully embed diversity, equity, and inclusion into our practices, behaviors, and culture. As CEO, I will work with senior leadership to ensure the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force has the clear mandate to make ambitious recommendations for additional actions ClimateWorks should take to inextricably embed diversity, equity, and inclusion into the operational and cultural dimensions of our organization. ClimateWorks will set measurable goals for this initiative (e.g., the diversity of staff hired and contractors retained) and ensure accountability mechanisms are in place.

2. Further Diversifying our Board

We have deepened our discussion of board diversity, with the aim of strengthening our work through increased board diversity across a number of dimensions.

3. Expanding our Expertise and Partnerships

Recognizing that we are not currently engaged with a broad enough base of experts and advisors from diverse backgrounds, we will engage a diverse set of experts and organizations to advise us on specific opportunities to incorporate racial, social, and economic justice more deeply into climate solutions and into our programmatic strategies, grant portfolios, and global services. Advisors will include people whose expertise comes from lived experience.

4. Broadening our Network of Grantees and Contractors

In our latest strategic plan, we emphasized the need to diversify our grantee community and expand our global reach. We are setting aggressive targets for our global programs and global services for diversifying our overall network of grantees and contractors so that they better reflect the diverse global community we operate in. We will elevate voices and organizations that have been historically underrepresented in climate philanthropy — and who are central to our mission of ending the climate crisis.

5. Strengthen our Global Programs and Services

Our global programs and services will more deeply embed racial and social justice considerations into their strategies, work plans, and goals as we move forward. In addition, we will also fast-track our exploratory initiative (begun last year) focused on a “just social and economic transition” — to ensure that workers and communities benefit from high-quality jobs and economic development in the new economy and that racial justice is fully embedded into this approach.

6. Funding the Work

Budgets are reflections of organizational priorities, so we must ensure that our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative and the racial and social justice dimensions of our global programs and global services are fully supported. We have identified resources that can be allocated to support these priorities immediately (e.g., funds saved due to reduced travel and event costs and other flexible funds).

7. Listening, Learning, and Convening

With the full recognition that we have not done enough to date to fight anti-Black racism and other forms of systemic injustice around the world, we are committed to listening and learning how to more effectively pursue our climate change mitigation mission in concert with broader goals of racial and social justice. We are similarly committed to working with partners to learn and act together. Where appropriate and welcomed by the broader climate philanthropy community, we will deploy our convening power to support collaborative community dialogues and collective actions. This could include, for example, organizing learning seminars or webinars for funders and grantees.

We will continue to share what we are learning and doing with our funders, partners, and the climate philanthropy community and look forward to ongoing engagement on this journey.

Art credits: Cheryl Weber (Jujmo), John Gascot, Cameron Parker, Catherine Weaver, Nuclear Sky Art, Jason Harvin (Wayward Walls), Laura Spencer, James Hartzell, Eric Hornsby (Esh), Jade Jackson, James Kitchen, David Casablanca (Megasupremo), Von Walters, Plum Howlett, Melanie Posner, Daniel Barojas, Vitale Bros

Read these additional resources for more: