We can’t combat climate change until we draw from, respect, and prioritize the lived experiences of all our earth’s inhabitants.
An uprising at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 served as the tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Today, 51 years later, we proclaim June as Pride Month to honor all that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community have endured in the fight for full equality. Communities, individuals, allies, corporations, and politicians around the nation are joining hands in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community as we all fight to put an end to injustice, inequality, and discrimination.
As a self-proclaimed sustainable, equitable, and inclusive ClimateTech recruiting firm, Climate People prides itself on prioritizing diversity as one of our company’s core values. We recognize that climate change disproportionately impacts historically marginalized communities and believe it’s crucial to have a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce to solve these formidable challenges. In solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, we’re taking a look at how both technology and the environmental movement are traditionally heterosexual male-dominated fields, dive into the importance of inclusivity in the workplace, take a look into the intersection of inclusivity and the environmental movement, and finally explain how we are taking active steps to provide support.
We know that diversity is an essential element for success in the workplace and within the environmental movement as a whole. A diverse set of individuals allows for a wider set of perspectives, various lived experiences, retention rates, engagement, innovation, and performance.
According to a Harvard Business Review study, the numbers aren’t as promising as one might hope. Their research from 14 countries showed that 96-98% of large companies (above 1,000 employees) have diversity and inclusion programs in place. However, despite their initiatives, approximately three quarters of employees in underrepresented groups — women, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+ employees — didn’t feel as though they had benefited from the programs.
Many major technology companies claim to be taking active steps to bridge this divide. However, the stark gender and race divides don’t come as a surprise. According to the 2020 Diversity Reports from Google, Amazon, and Apple you can see that the percentage of white males disproportionately outweighs those in underrepresented groups.
Similarly, the environmental movement began as a white male-dominated field that prioritized the needs of a select group of individuals. Since its very roots, the movement has long excluded black, brown, and indigenous people in its policy, conservation, and health issues. The early framing of the movement set the stage for heterosexist practices and exclusionary initiatives.
Secondly, the strongest indicator of a human’s consumption — directly correlated with carbon footprint — is wealth. According to The Williams Institute School of Law, LGBTQ+ individuals of various races and ethnicities show higher rates of poverty than their cisgender straight counterparts. On the flip side of this same coin, not only are those in poverty contributing less to mass consumption, they will feel heightened effects of climate change due to increased exposure and vulnerability.
According to Mercy Corps, “climate change is going to amplify the already existing divide between those who have resources and those who don’t.”
As you can see, it’s increasingly evident that both the environmental movement and technology spaces are rooted in the success of white heterosexual males. Despite the recent initiatives to reverse this negative trend, there’s still a significant amount of work that needs to be done to achieve full equality for marginalized communities — inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals — within these spaces.
Despite the unsurprising and equally disappointing numbers, inclusivity in the workplace is arguably the most essential element for success. According to the 2021 Corporate Equality Index, “One thing is patently clear: equality is good business. Being an LGBTQ-inclusive1 employer is good for recruitment, retention, engagement and - ultimately - the bottom line.”
A survey conducted by The Williams Institute, concluded that LGBTQ+-supportive policies are linked to greater job commitment, increased job satisfaction, and better health outcomes among LGBTQ+ employees — benefiting employees and employers alike.
As we saw above with the disproportionately low diversity numbers from Google, Apple, and Amazon, it’s one thing to have a commitment to welcoming diversity. But, it’s a completely different initiative to actually implement policies, programs, and a workplace culture that truly create an equitable work environment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer employees.
According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in their Corporate Equality Index, a few starting points are:
As the world becomes more accepting of the LGBTQ+ movement, consumers will expect businesses to do the same. Not only is it the right thing to do, businesses will be held accountable by the population at large.
When discussing the intersection of inclusivity and the environment, we must look at the full picture of both the planet and those who inhabit it. There’s no environmental movement until we have one that prioritizes mutual respect and justice for all people — free from any form of discrimination or bias.
Leah Thomas coined the term Intersectional Environmentalist, an inclusive form of environmentalism advocating for the protection of all people and the planet. Intersectional environmentalism takes a deeper look into how discrimination of marginalized communities and the earth are blatantly intertwined.
“What we’re fighting for is representation and acknowledgement and accountability in the environmental movement in a way that has never even been considered before,” Thomas said.
Thomas amplified that it’s hypocritical for conservationists to preach the connectedness of nature and humanity while neglecting to address the inherent inequality within the traditional environmental movement.
As we can see, many traditional frameworks aren’t only outdated, but increasingly harmful to those in marginalized communities. Alongside taking active steps to dismantle these inherently harmful practices, many organizations are taking it upon themselves to reverse these negative trends.
The Venture Out Project sees these concerning statistics and works to counteract them through providing a safe and fun space for queer, trans, and LGBTQ+ people to experience the outdoors. Alongside their outdoor excursions, they provide education and support to help schools and organizations affirm their LGBTQ+ community members.
The team at The Venture Out Project uses the natural world as their classroom and office, and therefore believe they’re obligated to prioritize its care. They’re committed to leaving the natural world a bit better than they found it.
For every candidate Climate People places, we donate 1% of the placement fee to an environmental nonprofit of the candidates choosing. We recently partnered with 1% For The Planet and in honor of pride month we have chosen to donate $1,000 from our Q1 revenue to The Venture Out Project. We wanted to find an organization that fights for not only the livelihood of the planet, but for the equality of all of those who inhabit it. We believe it's crucial to have a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce in order to meet the challenges faced through climate change. We strongly believe in the mission of The Venture Out Project and are honored to help fund their initiatives.
When we take a deeper look at these inequalities, we can see that our technological and environmental arenas are nowhere near perfect. Addressing the mishaps, holding organizations accountable, and supporting progressive nonprofits are all great stepping stones to achieving true environmental and workplace justice. That being said, we must all take actionable steps to ensure our movements, workplaces, communities, and world are inclusive of all individuals regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
While we know that many answers are rooted in actionable policies, community building, and in critically evaluating our history, it’s also evident that concrete actions with quantifiable outcomes speak significantly louder than words.
Climate People is proud to work with our clients and candidates to create a recruiting ecosystem that’s supportive, inclusive, and actionable. We truly believe that we cannot put an end to climate change until we draw from, respect, and prioritize the lived experiences of all our earth’s inhabitants.
Driven By Impact is Climate People's monthly newsletter on news, insights, and action-packed resources. Read for all of January's updates.
Interested in making your job a climate job? Here's how + the Q&A we didn't have time to answer live.