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Why Does Diversity Matter?

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Why Does Diversity Matter?


Deron Davis, executive director, The Nature Conservancy

Diversity, equity and inclusion are critical measures of organizational health. According to Forbes, “study after study has shown that diversity leads to more creative teams and increases a company’s bottom line. Companies ranking in the top quartile of executive-board diversity were 35% likelier to financially outperform the industry medians and inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time.”

At The Nature Conservancy, we believe we will only be successful in our mission by assuring we build skilled attention to relevant differences into everything we do, including conservation practices, public policy, philanthropy, and marketing; that we have a globally diverse, culturally competent workforce; and that we create and maintain an inclusive workplace that enables everyone to contribute their best.

We also believe that biodiversity or the variety of life on Earth is a critical measure of the health of our planet. Generally speaking, the more variety of life that exists within a given area, the higher the biodiversity.

The numbers are in and the story they tell is a challenging one. According to a recently released report from The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) more species are endangered now than ever – across the globe and right here in Georgia.

This report finds that 75% of land surface and 66% of marine environment are “severely altered” by human actions. As a result, all life that depends on land and water is threatened. Urgent, transformative action is required to safeguard worldwide economies, food security, health and quality of life.

Up to 1 million species are threatened with extinction, many within decades. On average, 25% of the land, freshwater, marine and plant species studied are threatened with extinction.

The Nature Conservancy’s mission to protect the land and waters on which all life depends is more imperative now than ever.

Georgia is home to 32 endemic species, like the federally endangered Etowah darter—found only in the Etowah River watershed of north Georgia, and the hairy rattleweed—an endangered perennial plant found in the pine flatwoods of Georgia’s coastal plain. The iconic longleaf pine ecosystem, once plentiful across the southeast, is the focus of regionwide restoration efforts that if thwarted could result in the loss of gopher tortoise, red-cockaded woodpecker and several other species.

(ALL RIGHTS) Georgia’s iconic gopher tortoise. Photo credit: © Matt Hinderliter/TNC

IPBES’s report shows that one of Georgia’s biggest economic industries—agriculture—is under threat due to land degradation which has reduced the productivity of 23% of global land. Additionally, Georgia’s economic strength and ability to produce food and fiber for the world cannot thrive without many of the species now in dire threat. More than 75% of global food crop types rely on animal pollination putting an annual value of $235 to $577 billion at risk.

However, it’s not too late. There’s still a chance for the survival of species and humans across the globe.

TNC scientists have run the numbers: a more sustainable world is still possible if society makes big changes within the next decade – but time is running short. People and nature can both thrive, but only if we act right now.

We’re helping Georgia wildlife face its greatest threats by continuing to protect land that provides critically important habitat—nearly 380,000 acres to date. We’re working with partners to remove unnecessary dams, enabling fish to access the habitat they need for species survival. And on the coast, we are collaborating to restore oyster reefs and maritime forests.

Nature Unites Us! We have a shared responsibility and an enlightened self-interest to leverage our differences and work together to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends.

What are your thoughts?