World Day of Social Justice: Why do we need racial diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work?
20 February 2019
Our vision is a world where everyone chooses delicious and healthy food that is good for humans, animals and our planet, with the overall mission of reducing the global consumption of animals by 50% by the year 2040. Many other organisations are also working towards the goal of reducing animal product consumption, and there is increasing recognition of the need for diversity and inclusion in these organisations as in all areas of life. The UN defines social justice as “an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations,” promoting equality for all and the removal of the barriers people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, disability, and more.1
At ProVeg, we have people from over 20 different countries and cultural backgrounds working together to achieve great things. We are proud to have an active Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) working group, and are continually supported by our Works Council, a group dedicated to addressing not only employees’ rights but also equality and inclusivity. We believe that DEI is an important and internationally relevant topic and we look forward to exploring its various aspects here on this blog in the future – so watch this space!
We are always working towards more diverse representation in our organisation and actively support diversity and its promotion. This is why, on World Day of Social Justice, we welcome this guest blog from Aryenish Birdie, Executive Director of Encompass, a US organisation that works towards racial diversity, equity, and inclusivity in the farmed animal protection movement.
When I joined the animal protection movement over 20 years ago, I couldn’t have imagined the progress we’d make. I’m proud to be part of a movement whose victories seem endless.
Our strategic thinking and capability to quickly innovate have both been vital to our success. It’s due to our continually evolving public messaging, our use of data analytics, our nuanced corporate campaigns and public policy efforts, coupled with investigations, that we claim victory so often. And the ever-growing list of plant-based (and soon-to-be clean) products is a testament to our success as well. But something is missing.
Right now our sector is extremely racially homogeneous, yet decades of sociological and workplace research demonstrates that diversity, equity, and inclusion increases effectiveness. These concepts help companies achieve higher profit margins and social movements to realise greater success. And for better or worse, these principles are now cornerstones in the re-branding efforts of both the US Republican and Democratic parties. Since these concepts can be difficult to understand and name, here are a few definitions:
‘Diversity’ tells us who is in the room, ‘inclusion’ means those in the room are heard, and ‘equity’ means those in the room have the things they need to thrive. Thus, the term ‘DEI’: diversity, equity, inclusion.
To be clear, equity doesn’t mean equality. To borrow from a commonly used metaphor, equality is when everyone in the room gets a pair of shoes while equity is when everyone gets a pair of shoes that fits them and meets their needs and style. In this sense, you can see that equity is far more powerful and complex than mere equality.
Encompass is taking a multipronged approach to tackling DEI issues in the farmed-animal protection movement by empowering both advocates of colour individually and organisations institutionally. To learn more about how we approach our work with organisations and why we do so, please read here.
I am a woman of colour, so these issues are personal, but I am also an animal advocate. It is because I share the sense of urgency that fuels our work that I know we must, for our movement’s sake, address this gap. I founded Encompass because it’s the right thing to do and it’s the smart thing to do.
Race is a core component of the identity of most people of colour. As animal advocates – and as a movement – if we want to meet people where they are, we must acknowledge this. The good news is that our sector is nimble and skilled at changing tactics based on data. We have an opportunity before us and we look forward to harnessing it together.
Encompass was founded to increase effectiveness in the animal protection movement by fostering greater racial diversity, equity, and inclusion while empowering advocates of colour. Encompass’ vision is a thriving animal protection movement that operates at its fullest potential because it reflects racial diversity, with organisations and advocates embracing a culture of inclusion and equity.