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Making progress in building a stronger foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion at ClimateWorks

Making progress in building a stronger foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion at ClimateWorks

As we observe the grim anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, we are reflecting on the injustice of his death — and far too many others like him — and how it ignited an ongoing global movement for equality that shifted the ground beneath us all.

Like many people and organizations whose eyes were opened last year to the deeply embedded impacts of structural racism in the U.S., ClimateWorks committed to learning, listening, and deepening our efforts on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice across all dimensions of our work.

The convergence of the pandemic, economic upheaval, new social justice movements, and the escalating impacts of climate change profoundly influenced how ClimateWorks and others in the broader climate community view and approach our work to end the climate crisis and ensure a healthy future for all people and the planet.

We have made some initial progress in several key aspects of our journey and have learned lessons on how to overcome organizational inertia, but we have much more to learn and farther to go to be the allies for justice that we aspire to be.

Our journey on racial, social, and justice equity

Our vision is to create a thriving planet for all living beings. But this cannot be achieved so long as racism exists. The events of 2020 compelled us to formalize and strengthen our work to listen, learn, and act, developing a set of seven commitments across our organization, including more fully embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion into our practices, behaviors, and culture.

We have made tangible progress in putting these commitments into action AND we also know our work is just beginning. Examples include:

  • Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force held two all-staff retreats with a significant focus on continued anti-racism education and our ongoing DEI and racial, social justice work, which created ongoing opportunities for staff to explore and learn with each other. Changes we have made to our hiring practices will help ensure we are attracting the diverse talent that exists in communities across the country and around the world. We have also taken steps to expand our board with the addition of two highly regarded climate champions.
  • Our Global Programs and Global Services are increasingly incorporating racial and social justice into their strategies, work plans, and goals. This is reflected in our grantmaking as well. Specifically, we immediately redirected $1.5 million of our flexible funds to support grantmaking for racial and social justice and Covid-19 priorities in 2020, and also began identifying additional opportunities for our programmatic work to support justice and equity work. We are also working to expand and diversify our grantees and partners, incorporating new measures and practices, collaborating, and learning with others.
  • We have fostered more dialogue on strengthening climate action through diversity, equity, and justice with events like 2050 Today: Emerging Strategies for a Just, Post-pandemic World, and other partner gatherings. These convenings are essential parts of our commitment to listen and learn in partnership with the broader funder and grantee communities about how to more effectively pursue our climate change mitigation mission in concert with broader racial and social justice goals.
  • We supported analyses of philanthropic contributions in the climate equity and justice space that showed funding has been fairly limited. Our preliminary estimates of foundation giving to causes supporting climate justice, just transition to a low-emissions economy, grassroots mobilization, and equity is around $60 million of a total $1.6 billion in foundation giving for climate change mitigation efforts in 2019. We hope to encourage more giving to the communities most impacted by a warming world and we are heartened by recent funding announcements, which are already beginning to expand equity and justice-centered climate philanthropy.

The years ahead

One theme we will continue to explore is how to best approach climate action in a more intersectional way. Covid-19 exposed and exacerbated the precarity in our society while also spotlighting how deeply interconnected the world is. We cannot make progress in slowing climate change without pursuing solutions that also address rising inequality and foster equity and justice for all.

We are energized by our work to date and recognize much of the journey is still ahead of us. Under the guidance of our Acting CEO, Chris DeCardy, with the full support and involvement of our executive team and board, and harnessing the passion and talents of all ClimateWorks staff, we will continue to prioritize this work throughout the organization. We look forward to sharing more updates as we continue to do the work needed to fully root our commitments in our culture and practice at ClimateWorks.

We are committed to doing our part to contribute to the world’s long road of healing and recovery. While progress on the pandemic is being made, it is not being made equitably across the globe, and justice remains too distant for too many. The loss, lessons, and fundamental issues that surfaced over the past year will continue to shape our work in the years ahead. ClimateWorks remains committed to doing the important work to see these shifts through to achieve a more equitable, just, and healthy future.

Published May 25, 2021

ClimateWorks Executive Team