Wow! I could really relate to the sentiments expressed by environmentalist, Sanjayan, in this Time Magazine article. Especially as I attended a number of green events last month. Highlights from the article:
- An incredible lack of racial and economic diversity exists in the environmental movement
- Needs to reflect the growing diversity of the United States
- Perception exists that only wealthy white liberals can afford to "go green"
- Difficult to relate to groups that don't seem to reflect your culture, lifestyle
- Suggests green groups diversify their workforce and identify and recruit students of color
- Encouraged by exposure and activities of environmental justice and green jobs activists, Van Jones and Majora Carter
- I would add - seek diverse representation on boards, advertise or write in culturally diverse media outlets, educational programs to K-12 urban schools, fraternities and sororities and business groups, aggressively seek representation at events, seek diversity training
Though I am a fearless networker, I have found that it is definitely more comfortable to attend these events with a friend or another African American, because sometimes there is a feeling of "what are you doing here?". This way both of you can network together, without that awkward feeling. Maybe, I am paranoid (not a personal trait), but the very fact that I feel this way, tells me that at least organizers should make a better effort to make "minorities" feel welcome. Another benefit of cultural, racial and economic diversity is that organizations can achieve the successes of of corporations that have diverse boards- greater performance metrics vs those entrenched in the "old boy" network. A broad range of backgrounds, styles, experiences and approaches spurs innovation and gains in market share. And Lord knows we need innovation in this country now more than ever.