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Next Steps Towards Ensuring SER and Ecological Restoration are Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive

Monday, July 6, 2020  
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In June, SER expressed its solidarity with those protesting against racism and injustice and for equity. Over the past month, the board and staff have taken the following actions to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Society and to impact the ecological restoration field.

At the end of June, the international board of SER took the following steps:

  1. Approved a motion to immediately strengthen the diversity, equity, and inclusion language in the 2011 SER Code of Ethics (see below for updated language).
  2. That same motion also approved the creation of an ad hoc committee to review the full Code of Ethics and to recommend additional improvements throughout the Code, including the newly adopted language. The ad hoc committee will also develop a plan for engaging the full SER membership for their recommendations for increasing equity within both the field of ecological restoration and the Society. The board expects to convert the ad hoc committee to a standing committee once their immediate work is completed. Our intent is that this committee will be primarily composed of people who come from under-represented and disenfranchised communities within the international field of ecological restoration.
  3. Agreed to create a template for a Code of Conduct at SER conferences and events. This template can then be used and adapted as needed by SER Chapters, Student Associations, Sections, and the full Society at all future events.
  4. SER will appoint two or more ombudspersons to review any violations of the Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct, in order to create clear and transparent processes for reporting and adjudicating violations to the Codes.
  5. The SER Board also adopted a new “Membership for All” program, creating equity membership rates that are available to individuals and institutions who cannot otherwise afford to participate in the Society at standard membership rates. All other membership categories remain in place (student/emerging professional, retiree, standard, restorer, organizational, and business). The new equity rates significantly expand eligibility of our income-qualified pricing (formerly available only to those located in lower- and middle-income countries as designated by the World Bank). The Membership for All program also includes a new one-time, no-fee Open Doors Membership for individuals who are unable to pay membership dues, but who want to be involved in SER. These new membership rates will be available later in July.

SER has a long history of working for justice and engaging under-represented communities within this field, but that does not mean we are always successful, nor does it mean we cannot do more. We believe that the steps outlined above will assist in ensuring an inclusive and anti-racist organization. As we stated a month ago, restoration cannot be implemented effectively without inclusion. For SER to achieve its mission, for our members to be successful in implementing restoration, and for restoration to achieve its promise of healing, we must also effectively decolonize this field to address pervasive and systemic racism, injustice, and inequity. We look forward to working with all of our members to make both the Society and the field of ecological restoration fair, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist. 

SER Code of Ethics [updated text] (You can view the full code here.)

Previous language

 Promote Fairness and Equity

  • We honor local partners by respecting their knowledge, engaging them and building local capacity when possible.
  • We promote practices that respect ecological and cultural diversity and support sustainable livelihoods.
  • We treat people fairly, avoiding discrimination and harassment.

 Modified language 

Promote Fairness and Equity

 We are committed to building a fair and equitable profession by:

  • honoring local partners through respect of their knowledge, engaging them through two-way communication, and building local capacity when possible. We are committed to communicating our work to diverse audiences. We are also committed to listening to and learning from local partners, including soliciting input and feedback. 
  • applying a critical lens to SER’s programs and practices in order to unearth structural racism internally, and across economies, policies, and partner institutions.
  • promoting practices that respect cultural diversity and support sustainable livelihoods in the same way we respect ecological diversity.
  • committing to becoming an anti-racist organization, working to end racism by consciously and proactively recognizing, interrupting, and stopping racism within our sphere of influence.
  • treating people fairly. We will not allow barriers to social inclusion affect our work, to include prejudice and discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, social and economic class, educational level, color, immigration status, sex, age, size, family status, political belief, religion, mental ability, and physical ability.
  • actively promoting and emulating respectful behavior. This includes recognizing, exposing, and fighting abuse of power and authority, to include bullying, and harassment of any kind. Harassment includes, for example, unnecessary scrutiny or attack, threats of violence, unwelcome sexual attention, discriminatory jokes and language, and advocating for or encouraging the above behavior.