Over the past couple of years, we’ve talked a lot about embracing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We have made progress, but still have work to do.
Our success in meeting the Service’s mission rests on a foundation of shared values and underlying beliefs that we can be our true selves at work, that dignity and respect are paramount, and that our individual and collective accomplishments are valued. The breadth and diversity of our backgrounds, identities, and experiences are our greatest organizational strength. When we can thrive as our authentic and best selves without barriers to success in our workplaces, we will achieve the Service’s mission with excellence, innovation, and relevancy far into the future.
Nature, and all that we in the Service do, must be for everyone.
We need to do better addressing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility not just within our own workforce, but also in how we serve the American public. We need to make sure that our collective public lands and programs offer access to nature for everyone – regardless of their race or background.
Too often, we have fallen short of our mission. Certain people have been made to feel unwelcome on their public lands or feel excluded from our programs because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or any of the traits that make them unique.
I believe wholeheartedly that for the Service to succeed in delivering our conservation mission, we need to reflect the diversity and the values of all people that we serve.
We also need to do better welcoming the millions of Americans that have historically been left out of wildlife conservation. We have tremendous conservation challenges, but our future will be bright if we can welcome, recruit, and empower professionals from diverse backgrounds to join us.
We will not overlook or excuse inequalities of the past and those that persist in our present. We owe it to anyone who has felt unseen and disrespected or been treated unfairly. But, we will move forward, together.
In this issue of Fish & Wildlife News, you’ll read about some of the work we’re doing internally and externally to support the principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA).
We are embracing DEIA because it makes us better at what we do and, above all, because it’s the right thing to do.
It isn’t easy, painless, or fast – nor should it be to transform our work culture. It will be worth it because we owe it to all Americans.