Defenders of Wildlife is working to advance wildlife conservation, with a focus on addressing the growing biodiversity and climate crises. Addressing these planet-wide challenges is best accomplished through collaboration and engagement of people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives working together to find sustainable solutions to these urgent crises.
Defenders of Wildlife is deeply committed to fostering a positive, inclusive and safe workplace where all voices are heard, and our employees can do their best work. It is essential that our organization is vibrant, and staff are engaged as we focus on our vital biodiversity conservation mission during these challenging societal times. The skilled, talented and dedicated employees who work at Defenders and their passion for saving nature and supporting people is exactly what we need to win the fight against biodiversity loss and climate change. It is this same passion that has led to successful conservation outcomes for wildlife over the years.
To strengthen our organizational capacity at Defenders, we have made some important changes aimed at supporting our workforce and actively integrating diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) principles into our work culture. These include the following:
- We created a new Vice President of DEIJ position, who is on the Leadership Team, and are building out a DEIJ team to engage across the organization to support this work. We have also expanded the Human Resources Department and created a Vice President of Human Resources position, who also sits on the Leadership Team. The transition and elevation of these two important positions allow for a more focused approach to evolving DEIJ from planning to action throughout the organization while refining our people and culture-based systems, processes, and procedures.
- We established a standing Culture Working Group, a crosscut of employees that serves in an advisory capacity to the president & CEO on matters related to evolving Defenders’ culture. This group will provide recommendations that support employee engagement, empowerment, inclusion, and development, to ensure that Defenders is a workplace where staff can grow and thrive.
- Defenders established a 10-week paid internship program to support ongoing long-term efforts to diversify our workforce by providing pathways for students for whom an unpaid internship may be unfeasible, opportunities for full-time employment at Defenders when available, and to help broaden the talent pipeline in the conservation sector.
- Defenders has updated internal processes to better support inclusion and equity, including a complete overhaul of position descriptions with consistency around requirements and expectations, new hiring processes to mitigate against implicit bias and newly established leadership competencies around inclusion.
- Defenders of Wildlife’s board of directors unanimously approved a revised investment policy statement that calls for our entire board reserves to be screened for 100% environmentally sustainable and fossil-free investments. Defenders’ board was united in requiring the green investment screen portfolio-wide to align our investment portfolio with our conservation mission and reduce the harmful impacts on the natural environment and on marginalized communities.
We regularly gather feedback from across the organization, and while the majority of staff cite positive experiences at Defenders, we acknowledge there are areas deserving additional attention and growth as we seek to be a more diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment where all staff can thrive.
Defenders of Wildlife is committed to an internal culture where all staff feel safe and respected as we work together to address, head-on, the escalating crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.