National Wildlife Federation--Diversity Success for Non-Profits

Introduction from Mauricio Velasquez
President & CEO
Diversity Training Group

Many argue, "it can't be done, diversity work - in the non-profit world," well, here is a bright, shining example and I am proud to tell you one of DTG's great client success stories. I wanted to share with you the National Wildlife Federation and their diversity journey. I wholeheartedly endorse their CEO, Mark Van Putten, NWF's CEO, who is one of those rare CEOs who has the vision and commitment and saw the "diversity writing on the wall" in the not-for-profit world. You will see Mark's message, their values (which all diversity work should be anchored in their values) and their diversity vision. We are proud to have partnered with the NWF and we are "making a difference at the NWF!" What a wonderful group of people who are truly committed to creating a more inclusive workplace - read on and enjoy!


"Diversity" is an often used word with many meanings. But diversity has precise significance for the National Wildlife Federation. It describes our appreciation of the critical role played by an almost infinite variety of species in healthy natural environments, even though we may not fully understand it.

That's why NWF has been a leader in endangered species conservation for our entire 65-year history. It's why our grasslands restoration plan highlights the subtle interplay of bison, prairie dogs, black-footed ferrets, swift fox, tallgrass and shortgrass prairies. It's why our education programs- including television documentaries, magazine articles, teacher training and classroom materials- feature plants and butterflies as well as grizzly bears and wolves. It's why we pressed Congress last year to pass the so-called "wildlife diversity initiative," which would better fund state non-game wildlife programs, and the bill to restore the Everglades, a magnificent example of nature's diverse splendors.

NWF's commitment to conserving "biodiversity" was best articulated by Aldo Leopold more than 50 years ago, when he described the last word in ignorance as someone "…who says of an animal or plant: 'What good is it?" Leopold asked, "If nature, in the case of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts?" And he taught us that "To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering."

But "diversity" means more to the National Wildlife Federation. It describes the variety of people- including each of you reading this report- who support our mission and programs. While diverse in your backgrounds and outdoor interests, you share a common love of wildlife and a commitment to keeping the wild in our world for our children and grandchildren. I am fortunate in meeting many of you in my travels and you always inspire me.

NWF is committed to reaching even more people in an American populace of increasingly diverse ethnic backgrounds, national origins, religious beliefs, family structures, lifestyles and experiences (or lack of them) of the natural world. While a love of wildlife and concern for a healthy environment are widely shared human values, this appreciation may be latent and its relevance to everyone not readily apparent. That's why our education programs are designed for people living in cities and suburbs, why our materials are increasingly multilingual, why we're pilot testing new urban outreach programs in Detroit and Atlanta, and why we've opened a new field office in San Diego, California.

Our efforts can't stop at the U.S. borders. We must respect the aspirations of people living in developing countries as we confront worldwide environmental problems such as climate change and overpopulation. In an era of globalization, the world is more connected but no less diverse. That's why our international programs educate Americans about these problems, including their impact on the world's poor, and mobilize our members to insist on U.S. leadership in solving them.

Leopold warned us not to discard seemingly useless parts of the natural world. At NWF, we appreciate the value of all the parts and understand the importance of all the people it will take to save them. It's your support that allows us to reach our increasingly diverse human audience so that, together, we can restore and conserve the splendid and beautiful diversity of nature.

Mark Van Putten (signature)
President & CEO
NWF's Operating Values (as modified at 10/98 Executive Staff retreat)


Honesty & Integrity: We will be honest with one another and honor each other's confidences to encourage open discussion. Information will not be taken out of context.

Reliability: We will keep commitments and do what we say we are going to do.

Respect: We will show each other courtesy and consideration.

Mutual Support: We will seek to understand other's circumstances and views and actively communicate with each other to help all succeed. We will encourage each other to disagree within the group in discussing issues without fear of retribution, but we will fully support and implement decisions once they are made.

Openness & Open-Mindedness: We will listen to other points of view and will readily share both knowledge and information. We will strive to be flexible, open to criticism, and willing to adapt our positions for the good of the organization.

Transparency: We assume goodwill on the part of each other and we will honor the right of each other to ask "why?" when the rationale of certain decisions or positions is not clearly communicated for understood.

Effectiveness: We are aggressive in striving to succeed in all that we do, encourage thoughtful risk taking as necessary for success and acknowledge that learning from occasional failures is a precondition to success.

NWF Diversity Management Program Policy Statement
Diversity Vision:
 To foster an environment of respect where all individuals are valued for their differences leading to a productive work place which maximizes abilities.

RATIONALE: NWF is committed to providing an inclusive workplace for all employees. The goal of NWF's Diversity Management Program is to help provide that sense of inclusion while maximizing the contributions and productivity of everyone. Diversity at NWF means valuing and respecting an individual's differences.

Managing diversity differs from Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action (AA) by extending beyond legal compliance issues and focuses on addressing culture and daily interactions internally and externally. The Diversity Management Program aims to ensure that NWF supports all individuals and aids them in pursuit of NWF's mission and their professional goals.

OBJECTIVES: NWF's Diversity Inclusivity Strategy supports three business objectives. These include 1) Create an inclusive environment and culture; 2) Integrate diversity throughout all programs and staff; and 3) Assume individual responsibility for professional development and education.

OPERATING PROCEDURES: NWF has established a Diversity Council which is responsible for discussing diversity issues and recommending programs supportive of these concepts. This group is responsible for continuing the dialogue which is necessary to change perceptions but its outputs must result in action oriented items. The Council is comprised of staff throughout NWF who will meet on a quarterly basis and serve for a one year period. This group is appointed though the Human Resources Department.

NWF is guided by a set of Operating Principles. These must be central to everything NWF does. NWF's philosophy on diversity is based on respecting and valuing differences because each employee brings his or her own attributes to NWF.

RESPONSIBILITIES: NWF views diversity management as an evolution. The long-term focus is to understand its culture in terms of a shared set of values and common objectives. To reach the fullest organizational potential, all staff should be held accountable and support the Staff Diversity Initiative. It is the responsibility of the CEO and senior management to implement this Diversity Program. In addition to the role that senior management must play, it is incumbent upon each employee to share the responsibility of creating and maintaining an environment of mutual respect. Employees are encouraged to use good judgment in all they say and do in the workplace. NWF is committed to demonstrating that diversity is a core element in its workplace culture.