Green, But Mostly White: The Lack Of Diversity In The Environmental Movement, Part 4 of 5—Future 500

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Green, But Mostly White: The Lack Of Diversity In The Environmental Movement, Part 4 of 5—Future 500

Guest Blog By Brendon Steele, Future 500
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Job-hunting + networking skills are key to fostering #diversity in #environmentalism- http://bit.ly/1ti88di via @Justmeans + @future500

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Summary

Future 500 is a global nonprofit specializing in stakeholder engagement and building bridges between parties at odds—often corporations and NGOs, the political right and left, and others—to advance systemic solutions to urgent sustainability challenges. The organization unites corporate and NGOs to address social and environmental issues with market-based solutions. Recently, members of the Future 500 staff held a roundtable discussion about diversity—rather, the lack of it—in their industry. Participants were Shilpi Chhotray, Danna Pfahl, Marvin Smith, Nick Sorrentino and Brendon Steele. Part 4 of the five-part series features comments by Brendon Steele, Senior Stakeholder Engagement Manager—The Editor.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 4:00pm

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As a white male—the most over-represented demographic in the environmental field—I don't have as much personal insight to contribute to the diversity discussion.  So I would like to highlight here my education experience and how I came to work in the field, which I feel illuminates some of the broader diversity issues the community is facing.  To preface, I believe access to resources is key. 

I grew up in a working-to middle-class household, and was the first of my family to achieve a bachelors degree, and then a masters.  Because of this dynamic, I understood the impact it had on my family and what a privilege it was.  I completed my undergraduate at an excellent state school (UC Davis) and then graduate studies at an Ivy League (Columbia).  Both of these experiences gave me perspective on the type of education received at public and highly elite private institutions and shined a light on to the role of class and access to education.

The perception is that Ivy League schools are filled with the children of the elite.  And yes, there are several students from highly elite backgrounds, but not nearly as many as I thought.  The perception is, too, that having Columbia on your resume is an instant boost—and there is definitely some truth to that.  But in my opinion the biggest leg up was not the education itself (I felt UC Davis was actually a better experience than Columbia), it was that Columbia taught me in practical terms how to go about getting a good job, much more so than UC Davis (or any of my non-Ivy League friends' educations).

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Read Part 1Part 2Part 3

Brendon Steele is Senior Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Future 500

Keywords: Diversity & Inclusion | Columbia | Education | Future 500 | Innovation & Technology | Ivy League | networking | professional development | uc davis

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CONTENT: Blog

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