From the beginning, our mission statement has called out social equity alongside economic opportunity and environmental well-being as inextricable if we are committed to pursuing regional resilience. That commitment not just to ecological integrity or economic progress is unique and important: with the addition of equity, we’re saying that dignity, justice, and rights are at the core of our mission.
As our organization continues to evolve, we are refining and deepening our understanding of social equity and recognizing, if we want to achieve our mission, we must embed racial equity in everything we do.
Centering equity at Ecotrust has meant entering into a field that is rich, ongoing, and radiates from the wisdom, experience, and knowledge of the Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color that call this bioregion home. It has clarified the opportunities we have to invest in partnerships that directly benefit communities of color, and it requires we transform as individuals and an organization so that we can contribute to the impact we want in our region.
Since 2017, Ecotrust’s Equity Working Group has developed and implemented an annual Racial Equity Action Plan to embed equity, diversity, and inclusion within our culture, operations, programs, and community partnerships.
Our Racial Equity Action Plan
Created and led by the Equity Working Group, the Racial Equity Action Plan drives transformation and increases our capacity to be better partners in racial equity and justice across our region.
Our 2020 Racial Equity Action Plan includes the following goals:
Goal 1: Support and empower Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) staff
BIPOC staff at Ecotrust have a clear understanding of their career growth pathways and are provided with opportunities to take on new, challenging projects to demonstrate their skills. All BIPOC staff know they will have opportunities to grow with the organization and reach their full potential here.
Goal 2: Build equitable leadership teams and develop BIPOC leadership
Long-term vision: We envision a new leadership structure, one based on equity, consent, and collaboration and that contributes to a truly inclusive and collaborative culture. This leadership structure includes: An expanded Leadership Team, an Executive Director’s Advisory Council, and the Board. Contextually relevant information is shared openly at every level of the organization and teams continuously seek to partner, building synergy and breaking down programmatic silos. We explore the use of a shared and impacted leadership framework that distributes power throughout the organization and centers the leadership of those who have lived experience with inequities. Ecotrust is an environment in which ideas at all levels are valued for the positional expertise they represent.
The Leadership Team, the Executive Director’s Advisory Council, and the Board better reflect the experiences and perspectives of our region and Ecotrust’s increasingly racially diverse staff. The Leadership Team, the Executive Director’s Advisory Council, and Board includes members with advanced and expert-level racial equity competencies. The organization has bold, brilliant, and creative BIPOC staff members in positions of power, making daily and strategic decisions to inform our programmatic priorities, equitably distribute funds and resources, and focus attention on meaningful and lasting impacts through our work.
Goal 3: Drive forward organizational, programmatic, and cross-programmatic equity work
All committees and working groups (e.g. climate), as well as important gatherings (e.g. LT and board meetings/retreats), have a rich variety of BIPOC voices and perspectives.
Goal 4: Be data driven and utilize results-based accountability
We measure and report out key metrics related to equity, communicating progress towards our goals internally and externally. We have accountability mechanisms that ensure we meet measurable targets in our pursuit to become a more equitable organization.
A timeline of equity at Ecotrust
In 2020, Ecotrust will take bold steps to intentionally shift resources, power, and privilege to advance equitable outcomes. This includes hiring a Director of Equity to work alongside the members of Ecotrust’s Equity Working Group to lead in shifting policies and procedures internally at Ecotrust, identifying systemic interventions, and building networks externally with mission-aligned BIPOC-led organizations.
We conduct a full audit of our hiring practices, hire our first Director of Food Equity, and expand the Equity Working Group to five members. Ecotrust’s Board forms an Equity Working Group to drive board equity work and support efforts across our organization.
We add equity requirements to all job descriptions for new hires and to annual reviews for all staff. A new equity lens framework tool is presented and piloted with several core Ecotrust projects.
The Equity Working Group is formalized and launches the Racial Equity Action Plan; all staff participate in ongoing cultural competency trainings.
Ecotrust’s Equity Working Group is a consultative body in charge of initiating and tracking the progress of our racial equity action plan.
We complete the Coalition of Communities of Color tool for organizational self-assessment and identify nine key areas for growing our commitment to racial equity.
Three Ecotrust staff attend Exploring Power, Privilege, and Tools for Change, organized by the Center for Diversity and the Environment. An informal, staff-led group forms, holds ongoing lunchtime discussion groups, and hosts speakers.