Diversity, equity and inclusion



© Georgina Goodwin

Over the years, Conservation International’s focus on people has led us to a more compassionate approach to protecting nature — and it continues to guide us as we make diversity, equity and inclusion a top organizational priority. We’re developing policies and practices that will ensure we engage with all teams and partners in an equitable way.

This isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s a practical one. Almost without exception, conservation efforts that aren’t built on a foundation of inclusion, compassion and empathy disintegrate. We know there is no path to climate stability without the full participation of Indigenous peoples and local communities — and those partnerships cannot exist without culturally and emotionally competent teams.

M. Sanjayan
CEO Conservation International



Our vision

We imagine a world in which people from all backgrounds and experiences feel connected to the environmental challenges we face and fully participate in creating and implementing durable, inclusive, and equitable conservation solutions. In pursuit of strengthening the full interconnection of humanity with the natural world, we embrace diverse voices, wisdoms, and talents in our work and in partnership with communities around the world, by promoting compassion, equity, and respect.


Our mission

At Conservation International, we know that diversity, equity and inclusion are foundational to achieving our goals and we strive to weave diversity, equity and inclusion systemically throughout our work to advance innovative and impactful solutions to some of the planet's most pressing problems.



In our conservation efforts…

  • ​​We aim to create and foster a workforce that reflects and contributes to the diverse communities in which we work around the world.
  • We will seek full participation from and elevate the voices of the communities with which we collaborate, particularly those historically ignored in conservation, to ensure equitable outcomes.
  • We will align inclusion and equity with our strategic priorities and our mission as a fundamental element of the human well-being We seek to support through our work.
  • We will seek to engage with partners, consultants, grantees, vendors and service providers who share our commitment to address systemic inequities to those historically ignored in conservation for a more equitable future in the diverse communities where we work.

In our workplace…

  • We will diversify our workforce demographics globally by providing equitable opportunity through recruitment, development and promotion.
  • We will develop a culture of inclusive mindsets and behaviors by minimizing bias, addressing systemic inequities and through ongoing learning opportunities.
  • We are committed to an environment where our people feel they belong and are able to bring their whole selves to work and are respected and appreciated as valuable team members.



Since our founding more than 30 years ago, Conservation International has pioneered an approach to conservation that puts human well-being on equal footing with environmental goals.

We were one of the first environmental organizations to develop a policy for partnering with Indigenous peoples — an initiative that evolved into our rights-based approach to conservation: supporting women to participate fully in community discussions and management decisions and rolling out new systems to better address project risks that directly impact people and the environment.

Now, we are intentionally elevating these principles into our organizational priorities and measuring our progress on workforce diversity, workplace inclusion, inclusive conservation and leadership accountability. We are committed to:


We are committed to:

© Michael Christopher Brown

Inclusive practices that involve local people in conservation efforts.


© Conservation International/photo by Katie Bryden

Inviting diverse perspectives to conservation by engaging not only scientists and conservationists but also social scientists, as well as local and Indigenous leaders.


© Starbucks

Promoting diverse partnerships by working with governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations from emerging nations as well as communities and donors.


Our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts are reflected in our programs, workforce and culture.

Inclusive programs

By building diversity, equity and inclusion into our projects we aim to minimize bias and address systemic inequities, which often cause marginalized communities to be especially vulnerable to environmental degradation and climate change.

Our timeline

  • 1987 — Conservation International is established.
  • 1996 — Launched our policy for working with Indigenous peoples, with an emphasis on equitable conservation.
  • 2001 — Created a task force to review gender pay equity and promotion policies.
  • 2009 — Updated Conservation International’s mission to focus on community-led conservation and human well-being.
  • 2012 — Launched our program to support women’s leadership in conservation.
  • 2013 — Developed our Indigenous Advisory Group for issues related to Indigenous rights, climate change and forest conservation, including guidelines for applying the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
  • 2016 — Published an environmental peacebuilding training manual to manage conflict in conservation efforts.
  • 2020 — Launched annual fellowship program to support Indigenous women leaders in the Amazon.
  • 2021 — Developed organizational metrics to evaluate and monitor diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
  • 2022 — Launched a new Safeguards System to screen for environmental & social risks.

We have developed a Safeguards System to better identify and address project risks and opportunities that directly impact people and the environment. The system will be rolled out in fiscal year 2023.

We established a public Accountability and Grievance Mechanism to address concerns and complaints raised by individuals, communities and other stakeholders connected to Conservation International initiatives.

Our gender program celebrated 10 years of working to advance gender-inclusive conservation efforts. We offer guidelines for integrating gender into conservation programming and responding to gender-based violence in community conservation. National partners have recognized many of our projects for supporting women to participate fully in community discussions and management decisions.

Our fellowships help Indigenous women from a wide range of regions — from the Pacific Islands, to Amazonia, to northern Kenya — take on leadership responsibilities and roles that have historically excluded them. They are strengthening their communities through ancestral knowledge and working to fight climate change.

Our Indigenous Advisory Group provides advice and feedback on issues related to Indigenous rights, climate change and forest conservation – including guidelines for applying the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), an international human rights standard.

Conservation International has been a thought leader in integrating human rights into the sustainable seafood movement. In 2021, we assessed 20 fisheries with a due diligence tool developed by our experts to protect the human rights of crew and communities in the fisheries and aquaculture sector.

Workplace diversity and culture

In a time marked by a global health crisis and events that lay bare the breadth of systemic inequities, we know that our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts must evolve to meet the moment. Our vision is an organization with teams that reflect the places where we work; a culture that values our differences; inclusive field practices that strengthen human rights; and top-to-bottom accountability.

We’ve developed a strategy and policies to ensure we engage with all teams and partners in an equitable way. That includes improving recruitment, hiring and promotion practices; promoting a culture of inclusivity through ongoing learning opportunities; and fostering an environment that respects and values individual differences — where our people are able to bring their whole selves to work.

This has included new employee-led resource and affinity groups, which are designed to ensure that our staff find belonging in our community and new learning and development courses focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, such as Countering Unconscious Bias and Fostering an Inclusive Climate.


Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a strategic priority that guides Conservation International’s work. Over the past year, we have made significant investments and taken concrete actions on our DEI commitments. More remains to be done — as we continue our journey, we will report on our progress here.