Here at WEC, we’re digging deeper into what it means to be committed to racial and environmental justice – not only with our programs, but also in our internal policies and practices and how our language reflects our racial justice lens. How does WEC make sure our HR and management practices are fair and equitable? How do we give our staff and board opportunities to learn and grow? How do we ensure we have an inclusive office culture? We’re working to apply a racial justice lens from the inside out, which, it turns out, can be tricky.

The traditional environmental movement has been historically led by majority-white organizations.

Fortunately, we’ve found some friends who are grappling with the same thing. The traditional environmental movement has been historically led by majority-white organizations. And while we’ve made progress, we’re seeing how the benefits are inequitable. Communities of color and lower income communities often receive the brunt of environmental degradation; today, race is the number one predictor of whether you live near pollution. It’s time that we step up and look at the systems that have gotten us to where we are today.

WEC has joined together with other historically white-led organizations to create a space for learning, asking the hard questions, sharing information, and making commitments. We understand the responsibility we have to educate ourselves, without leaning on community of color-based organizations to do so. In monthly meetings open to anyone who works at a historically white-led nonprofit, we focus in on a topic and workshop solutions together. From strategic planning to fundraising to leadership buy-in, we’re sharing knowledge, resources, and encouragement, which we bring back to our organizations. With each new topic we focus on, we learn more about what is effective at other organizations and things we all struggle with. We are humbled by how much work we have ahead of us.

While none of us have all the answers, our collective curiosity and knowledge sharing is helping us transform our organizations for the better.

In March, WEC’s Administrative Director, Sean Pender, teamed up with other admin staff from Naturebridge and the Seattle Aquarium on a panel about how they’re bringing a lens of racial equity to the hiring process. While none of us have all the answers, our collective curiosity and knowledge sharing is helping us transform our organizations for the better.

We invite you to join our Equity Learning Community of historically white-led organizations. As we work to make plans for 2018 meet ups, we welcome your ideas and curiosity! To get involved or for more information, visit our Racial and Environmental Justice webpage.