Environmental Law

ELS Diversity in Educational Programming Policy

ELS’s Mission Statement specifies the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion: “cultivating a well-informed, collegial, and diverse group of lawyers and law students” and fostering “an informed understanding of the role of such laws in encouraging … environmental justice.”[1]

To further the mission, ELS has developed the following policy to address diversity in educational programming and leadership. ELS considered CLA’s 2019 Diversity Equity and Inclusion Policy in developing the ELS Diversity in Educational Programming Policy.

ELS defines “diversity” as follows: geography, type of practice, size of practice, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation and length of time in practice.[2]

While this current definition is in place to value broad based representation in appointments, the CLA’s model diversity in educational policy addresses specific diversity that ELS’s Diversity Committee believes needs to be emphasized in order to achieve ELS’s goals. For purposes of this policy, the ELS has identified non-male and people of color[3] as critical diverse perspectives to capture in educational programming. ELS believes that ideally, to serve diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives, a single speaker would not satisfy both the requirements of “non-male” and “person of color” speakers on a single panel; such a solution would (for example) result in three male, non-person of color speakers on a four-person panel. However, ELS is mindful that requiring separate non-male and person-of-color speakers may create a risk of further marginalizing women of color in panel selection. The policy is meant to specifically encourage selection of women of color as speakers where possible and should be interpreted with that goal in mind. Also, for purpose of this policy, moderators who verbally present substantive information at educational programs are considered speakers. The policy is a minimum requirement and each webinar, panel or seminar planning shall include affirmative steps to exceed the minimum diversity requirement whenever possible.

  • For webinars, panels or seminars that have 3 or 4 speakers: at least 1 non-male speaker and at least 1 person of color shall be included.
  • For webinars, panels or seminars panels that have 5-8 speakers: at least 2 non male speakers and at least 2 people of color (or 1 person of color for 5 speaker panels) shall be included.
  • For multi-panel programs, conferences and events: this policy will apply to each panel component.
  • For multi-panel programs, the speaker composition of the program as a whole should represent as closely as possible the composition of the state bar, in terms of gender and racial diversity.
  • Faculty members will be asked to voluntarily self-identify and will be provided with a statement explaining that the purpose of data collection is to enhance diversity and inclusion. These individuals will be given the option to decline to provide this information. The reporting may be provided to ELS and/or CLA and, if so, shall remain confidential and anonymous in its disaggregated form, but may be used for statistical analysis and accountability regarding diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • In addition, each webinar, panel or seminar committee must take affirmative steps to achieve diversity in type of practice, size of practice, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, and provide a report to the ELS Diversity Committee summarizing the affirmative steps taken and the diversity of each panel.
  • Each panel or webinar committee shall engage the ELS Diversity Committee early in the planning process to identify diverse speakers and shall provide the panel’s overall diverse ratio and the speakers’ self-identified diverse status to the ELS Diversity Committee with sufficient time in advance of the educational program date to allow for the ELS Diversity Committee’s review and approval of the panel and speakers. The timeline for planning the educational program shall take into account the iterative nature of the speaker and panel selection and diversity approval process to allow for fulfillment of the minimum requirement of the diversity policy.
  • If a panel does not comply with the minimum requirement of the diversity policy, the ELS Executive Committee Chairperson shall decide if there are replacement speakers that can serve on that panel to meet the minimum requirements of the diversity policy, or if that panel shall be removed from the educational program and replaced with an alternative panel that complies with the minimum requirements of the diversity policy, or, as a last resort, if the minimum requirements will be waived.
  • ELS shall comply with the CLA record retention policy concerning records showing the diversity of the speakers in each webinar, panel or seminar, including diversity of gender and race.[4]
  • If ELS participates and/or is a co-sponsor of a program that is planned by another organization, ELS will inform the organization of ELS’s Diversity In Educational Programming Policy and ask that they consider it when planning the program. If ELS has the responsibility to plan a panel within a program that is offered by another organization, and as the responsible entity will have the ability to select panelists, ELS shall meet the minimum requirements of the ELS Diversity In Educational Programming Policy.

[1] The mission of the Environmental Law Section is to advance the quality, breadth, and availability of information and services related to environmental, natural resources, land use, and energy law, and to enhance the profession by cultivating a well-informed, collegial, and diverse group of lawyers and law students throughout the state. The Environmental Law Section further aims to bring attention to emerging issues related to environmental laws and to foster an informed understanding of the role of such laws in encouraging sustainable use of natural resources, protecting public health and safety and the environment, and addressing climate change and environmental justice.

[2] This definition is found in the CLA Appointments Policy.

[3] For reference, a person of color is defined as a non-Caucasian person.

[4] 2019 CLA Diversity in Educational Programming Policy: “CLA shall maintain records showing the diversity of the speakers in each webinar, panel or seminar, including diversity of gender and race. For programs with multiple panels CLA shall also maintain records showing the diversity of the speakers in the program as a whole. For recurring programs (such as section annual meetings or the CLA Annual Meeting), these records will in the future also include diversity information for prior years, so that progress in increasing diversity can be tracked. All of this information will be shared with (1) the section or CLA committee that organized the webinar, panel or seminar, (2) CLA’s Diversity Committee, (3) CLA’s Director of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives, and (4) CLA’s Board.”

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