January 17, 2023

The Interconnection of Diversity & Ecology

Human and Biodiversity

Importance of Human Diversity to Organizational Health and Vibrancy and the Relationship to Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health and Vitality 

Rustin M. Moore, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVS
Excerpts from a manuscript published in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 

Introduction by: Dr. Eric Miller 

We highlight an article from Rustin Moore, DVM, Dean of The Ohio State College of Medicine and a member of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Board, that appeared in the most recent issue of the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine (Vol. 53, No. 4).  

Dr. Moore has been a leader in promoting diversity for both The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine and the Columbus Zoo’s Diversity Committee. His article, “Parallels between biodiversity and human diversity: a mandate to improve ecological and organizational health and vitality” illustrates models of how these two diversities are inextricably interwoven. Below is a primer written by Dr. Moore on the topic of DEIB for those who would like to read it in advance of the journal article.   

The Importance of Biodiversity & Human Diversity

While veterinary medicine remains one of the least diverse professions, marine biology and oceanography, ecology, conservation science, and zoo, wildlife, aquatic, and exotic animal medicine are even less diverse. Dr. Moore contends that just as biodiversity is important for maintaining ecosystem health and vitality, human diversity is important for organizational health and vibrancy. To ensure animals (and plants) have the environment they need to thrive and to address urgent ecosystem health and conservation issues in our interconnected communities across the globe, our organizations must embrace diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB).  

DEIB

When discussing DEIB, it is important to work from the common definition of these terms in order to understand their interrelatedness and why all are important to promote diverse organizations that are effective and thrive. For the purposes of this discussion, the following definitions are used: Diversity is having respect for and appreciation of differences and a state of being valued, respected, and supported or the recognition and understanding of individual difference and uniqueness.” When considering diversity, it is important to embrace the broadest spectrum of diversity, including race/ethnicity; physical/mental abilities; gender, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression; parental, marital or pregnancy status; religious and political beliefs; military/veteran status; geographic, socioeconomic and educational backgrounds; challenges that have been overcome; other lived experiences; and different ideas, thoughts, values and perspectives; Equity acknowledges that fairness regarding unbalanced conditions is needed to promote equality in the provision of effective opportunities for all. It should be noted that equality is when everyone is provided the same opportunities in order to be successful whether they need it or not, whereas equity provides people with what they need to be successful as individuals; Inclusion is the practice of nurturing and fostering an environment where people feel welcome, comfortable, respected, supported, safe, and valued to participate fully; Belonging occurs when everyone feels welcome as their true authentic selves without leaving a part of themselves behind and they can thrive; and Justice is removing barriers and providing people what they need to be successful. It has been said that “Diversity is a fact, Equity is a choice, Inclusion is an action, Belonging is an outcome, and Justice is the goal”. 

The Benefits of Diverse Organizations

Although there may be no specific documented evidence (yet) that greater diversity of organizations leads to preservation of greater biodiversity, there has been substantial, consistent, and repeated evidence that more diverse organizations perform better, are more productive, and find better solutions to complex problems. Thus, with the many barriers and contributing factors to loss of biodiversity, it stands to reason that greater human diversity within our organizations would likely improve the chances of identifying and implementing meaningful and enduring solutions to promote biodiversity, conservation, and ecosystem health. Organizations are encouraged to conduct and publish research regarding the impact of increased human diversity on their missions of enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem health. 

Enhancing Organizational DEIB

There are many complex challenges to maintaining biodiversity, and organizations must use every tool in the toolbox to help find effective and enduring solutions. One such tool is to enhance organizational DEIB, which consist of (1) Developing an ethos of DEIB permeating every aspect of an organization; (2) Integrating DEIB into the fabric of an organization’s talent recruitment, leadership development, and pipeline efforts; and (3) Communicating an organization’s commitment to DEIB internally and externally. Through intentional focus and deliberate actions to enhance DEIB, we can make a difference to organizational health and vibrancy and in turn to ecosystem health and vitality. Prioritizing these efforts are critical for people and nature to coexist, for biodiversity to thrive, and to ensure a sustainable future. 

Access the full article here or click here to download the PDF 

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