Rooting our Climate and Culture in All of Our Sacred Personhood

Here at the Sierra Club, we are working to create a new vision for our planet and people. One powered by a conscious and caring cycle where we take care of each other and nature so it can take care of us. To get there we need to continuously learn, adapt, and grow.

We are inviting people to join an organizational culture and climate firmly rooted in all of our sacred personhood. We are placing renewed emphasis on workplace wellness and wholeness, intentional recruiting, robust immersive learning experiences and transformative justice.

If we take a closer look at Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) as concepts, we see that the framing implicitly suggests there is a default standard or status quo that “others” can be incorporated: white heteronormative Christian dominant culture. In other words, to be diverse is to be different from the dominant culture. Pursuing equity is about having access to and being equal to this culture. Finally, to seek inclusion is to desire entrance to a workplace that uses these values as the standard. This focus on the status quo, while purporting inclusion, is not only an illusion but an insidious tool for assimilation. To structurally address racism, ableism, sexism, dehumanization and anti-Blackness, we must equip people with the proper tools to build authentic relationships within organizations. To get to this healthy work environment, we need a completely different approach. 

Sierra Club’s former approach to equity cannot address the intergenerational legacies of oppression, nor is it a mechanism for organizational change and innovation. 

Decolonize Design’s framework of Belonging, Dignity, Justice, and Joy (BDJJ) will be embedded within all roles in the People Department and our organization as a whole. No longer will we have a separate, siloed department focused on this important work. 

These concepts are universal. Around the world and in different cultures this approach resonates because this is an invitation to come in your fullness so we can all reach our potential. We define these terms as:

  • Belonging is one’s physical, emotional and psychological safety; the indescribable feeling of being welcome.
  • Dignity is one of the most universal concepts to describe the sacred nature of each individual’s personhood.
  • Justice is the repairing and restoring of individuals.
  • Joy is the the feeling of being valued and celebrated

In the coming weeks we will be hiring a Learning & Wellness Director to ensure org-wide, immersive learning aligned with our values and the BDJJ framework. However, we’ve also recently hired a new People Chief, Aida Davis, a recognized thought leader and the creator of BDJJ,  who is working on implementing this framework throughout the organization.

All of this to say, we acknowledge the many Black, Native, Chicano, and many other oppressed and minoritized groups that have fought long and hard for changes within the Sierra Club, we would not be here without their fight and hardwork. 

And yet, we are at an inflection point, a transformative moment to take this to the next stage in its evolution.

In order to live our values, our work must lead to substantive change. It cannot be simply performative, both as activists and supporting each other as colleagues.

Join us in this paradigm shift.