Treehugger's Diversity Pledge

To our readers,

Our mission at Treehugger may be to help the planet, but we can’t do that in a vacuum. Issues of oppression and systemic racism are inextricable from the climate crisis, and its consequences disproportionately affect marginalized groups. Extreme weather events, food shortages, contaminated drinking water, toxic waste, exposure to environmental hazards at both work and home, and other impacts of the climate crisis hit communities of color the hardest. 

Our founder Graham Hill once said, “We’re not blue or red, we’re green.” We get what he meant: environmental issues affect everyone, so they should transcend politics. But these issues do not affect everyone equally. We cannot ignore the racist economic and social policies that continue to force people of color to shoulder the greatest burdens of the climate crisis.  

Forward progress on environmental issues cannot be achieved without addressing systemic racism. More than simply standing for the environment, we must stand for environmental justice, which includes speaking up about inclusivity, equality, and human rights.  

Sure, we have talked about diversity, but it’s time to really walk the walk. We are committed to being actively anti-racist, and we owe you, our readers, a concrete plan of action. Below, you will find the terms of our Diversity Pledge. This will be a work in progress and will evolve as we do, but we promise to never be just “green” again.

Our definition of diverse includes diversity of race, culture, gender identity/sexual orientation, age, body type, and ability. 

  • Diversify our contributors. We pledge to diversify our in-house and contributor teams, including writers, editors, and fact checkers. We view this as an editorial imperative — we cannot adequately cover climate and environment issues without a diversity of voices.  
  • Highlight diverse voices and perspectives. We pledge to seek out diverse experts in sustainability and STEM when looking for sources for our stories. By Sept. 30, we will increase the number of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) sources represented in our new content by 15 percent. In addition, we pledge to center diverse voices and perspectives in our Treehugger Voices section. We will commission features and personal essays that address the connections between the climate crisis and the lived experiences of marginalized people around the world.
  • Eliminate bias. We will conduct a thorough audit of our existing library to ensure that the language we use is always inclusive and anti-racist. By Sept. 30, we will evaluate and update articles accounting for 50 percent of our traffic.
  • Share our platform. We pledge to share our platform with grassroots BIPOC-led environmental organizations. We can organize social media takeovers, publish op-eds by organization leaders, and more. We will listen to grassroots leaders to learn how we can best amplify their voices. 

We are committed to being fully transparent about our progress on these initiatives. Starting Sept. 30, we will release a report each quarter outlining our progress, learnings, and future opportunities to improve. If you have any questions about our plan, suggestions for how we can improve it, or referrals for writers, editors, photographers, illustrators, or other contributors, please email us at contact@treehugger.com. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

December 2020 Progress Update

Over the last six months, the Treehugger team has been working to fulfill the promises made in our diversity pledge, which we published earlier this year. We would like to share an update on our progress: 

  • We have improved the diversity of our in-house and contributor teams, including writers, editors, photographers, illustrators, and more. The diversity of our full-time team is now at 40 percent; the diversity of our contributor team is now at 30 percent.
  • We have increased the number of diverse sources in our new content by 15 percent and will continue to identify and interview expert sources from diverse backgrounds. We have also endeavored to be more inclusive in how we illustrate our new news content; 50 percent of new photography that features people now features people from diverse backgrounds.
  • We have been working closely with our Anti-Bias Review Board in identifying and eliminating bias from our content. We are more than halfway done conducting a thorough audit of our existing library to ensure that the language we use is always inclusive and anti-racist. As of December 1, 2020, we have reviewed articles accounting for 50 percent of our total traffic.
  • In an effort to share our platform, we have used our social media accounts to amplify diverse voices. For example, nearly 70 percent of the people we have featured on our Instagram account since June have been creators from BIPOC accounts. We have also been promoting BIPOC-owned businesses on social media and in our holiday gift guide, where 20 percent of the gifts we recommended came from BIPOC-owned businesses.

We remain dedicated to our pledge and continuing the work of becoming a fully inclusive site – and we are committed to transparency about our progress. We will continue to share updates on how we are doing; you will be able to find them here quarterly. 

Finally, we would like to thank the readers who have taken the time to contact us with feedback and comments about our diversity policies. We are grateful for your insight and for continuing to hold us accountable to our goals.

March 31, 2021 Progress Update

For 2021, we are recommitting to our diversity pledge. We will build on the progress we made in 2020, with a continued emphasis on diversifying our in-house and contributor teams, including writers, editors, photographers, illustrators, and more. Specifically, we are exploring ways to have a sensitive and responsible methodology to collect this kind of information, so that we can always know exactly where we stand; where we have met our goals, and where we need to improve.

We continue working with the Anti-Bias Review Board, both in looking beyond our initial audit for more nuanced instances of bias, as well as collaborating in real-time to ensure that our current content and the language we use are inclusive and anti-racist.

By the end of next quarter, we will present a new set of initiatives that we are excited to be working on. We will also have our new reporting methodology in place and will be able to present a clear snapshot of how we have diversified our teams and what work lies ahead. It is an exciting place to be – with good progress made, and much more to come. We see this as a dynamic process and intend to always evolve as the future unfolds.