Transparency about human diversity in transnational environmental NGOs

Estelle Meaux, Diana Castillo-Díaz, Namrata Pradhan, Salindra K. Dayananda, Cristina M. Balboa, Eben Goodale*, Christos Mammides, Richard B. Primack, Uromi Manage Goodale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Conservation and/or environmental non-governmental organizations (CE-NGOs) have recently been scrutinized about their leadership's human diversity. Increasing diversity is an ethical obligation for CE-NGOs, and could benefit them by strengthening their problem solving, fundraising, and interactions with local communities across the world. Providing statements regarding their commitments, and including biographies and photographs of their leadership on their websites can indicate a CE-NGOs' dedication to diversity. Surveying 155 transnational CE-NGOs' websites, we found 26% did not mention human diversity in the mission statement, 65% did not use the words of equity, justice or inclusion, and 84% did not acknowledge historical or current power imbalances. A connection to local or indigenous peoples was incorporated twice as much as any other aspect of diversity. The CE-NGOs that had diversity statements were more transparent than those that did not, including more biographies and photos of their leaders. Small CE-NGOs (annual expenditures <$2 million) had fewer statements and were less transparent than large (>$10 million) ones, and CE-NGOs that fund, but do not themselves engage in conservation or environmental activities, were also less transparent. Having biographies of leaders could force a CE-NGO, whatever its size or type, to ask itself whether it represents the world it works in, stimulating self-correction, as well as generating public pressure to increase diversity. Nevertheless, providing this information should not be just for public display: it must be combined with an inclusive and equitable organizational culture that allows each member of the leadership opportunity to shape decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109027
JournalBiological Conservation
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Foundations
  • Gender diversity
  • Leadership
  • Nonstate actors
  • Organizational diversity
  • Racial diversity


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