In the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, the Chesapeake Bay Program adopted for the first time a goal to increase the number and diversity of people who support and carry out conservation and restoration work. In 2016, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay distributed a diversity profile on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Program to approximately 750 people who work for or with the partnership. More than 370 people responded. While some respondents declined to identify their race, 83 percent self-identified as white or Caucasian and about 13 percent self-identified as non-white or non-Caucasian. This is consistent with the “green ceiling” Green 2.0 has used to describe the decades-long racial composition in environmental organizations and agencies, despite increasing racial diversity in the United States. The partnership has set a target to increase the percentage of people of color in its program to 25 percent by 2025.
Chesapeake Bay Program Diversity Profile (2016)
The portion of profile respondents who self-identified as white (84 percent) is greater than the portion of United States residents who identify as white (about 62 percent), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The portion of respondents who self-identified as non-white (13 percent) is smaller than the portion of watershed residents who identify as non-white (about 35 percent) and the portion of United States residents who do the same (about 38 percent).
In addition to asking respondents to identify their race, the diversity profile asked respondents to indicate whether they would consider themselves a member of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s leadership. This can include members of the Principals’ Staff Committee or Management Board, as well as chairs, co-chairs and vice chairs of Goal Implementation Teams, workgroups and advisory committees. Of the people said to hold leadership positions, 89 percent identified themselves as white and 11 percent identified themselves as non-white. The partnership has set a target to increase the percentage of people of color in its leadership to 15 percent by 2025.
When diversity is taken into account in the planning and implementation of conservation and restoration work, this work is more likely to benefit all watershed communities. Increasing the inclusion of previously underrepresented communities in our work fosters creativity, drives innovation and ensures all people in the watershed can share in the vibrancy of the region. While age, gender, sexual orientation, religious faith, income level and other characteristics are important aspects of diversity, the Chesapeake Bay Program has decided to focus first on expanding ethnic diversity among the partnership.