Commitment lacking in finding diverse green executive candidates

Building on its first major study finding few people of color in the leadership of mainstream environmental NGOs, foundations and government agencies, Green 2.0 has released a new report, Diversity Derailed: Limited Demand, Effort and Results in Environmental C-Suite Searches, that looks at the role of executive search firms in producing such lack of diversity.

Among her findings in Diversity Derailed, Maya Beasley, of the University of Connecticut, discovered that 87.5 percent of search firms have encountered bias during past searches and 68.8 percent only mandate a diverse slate when their client prioritizes it. Further, Beasley found that only 28 to 44 percent of mainstream NGOs and foundations demand diversity on their short list of executive candidates, most organizations did not take the time necessary to find diverse candidates, and many overemphasize a fit to existing organizational culture.

Click here for various versions of Diversity Derailed.

Research by Green 2.0 and University of Michigan Professor Dorceta Taylor, a University of Michigan professor, previously found that people of color hold just 12 percent of leadership staff positions and 4.6 percent of board seats at environmental NGOs and foundations. The result is an “overwhelmingly white Green Insiders Club,” according to the organization, which is dedicated to increasing diversity in mainstream green groups and governmental agencies.

The report also identifies best practices that organizations and search firms can use to increase diversity in their leadership hiring, including:

* Mandate diverse slates of candidates and diverse interview committees.

* Minimize bias in interviews by using pre-determined, job-relevant questions and focusing on the candidates’ responses.

* Track leaks in the hiring process pipeline and measure diversity at each step.

* Measure the process and outcomes.

“This report demonstrates that, very frequently, the relationship and conflicting goals between search firms and their environmental organization clients doom the chances of people of color,” said Robert Raben, Green 2.0 founder. “The leadership of the mainstream environmental movement remains startlingly white, and it will remain so if search firms and their clients do not make diversity a real priority – not one among a list of priorities, easily forgotten. I hope this report reveals both sides’ shared responsibility and that they immediately adopt the best practices we have identified. Our environmental challenges are too great to leave talent on the table.”