Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Group pictogram

Incorporating Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion into Oil Spill Response Activities

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) – Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) work collaboratively during California spill responses involving oiled wildlife. The OWCN and OSPR have a shared interest in protecting our State’s natural resources and wildlife and also have a genuine interest and commitment to each respective organizations’ diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. Including these principles within the primary OSPR mission demonstrates their importance to the department, and it enhances the ability to recruit, hire, and retain the most qualified staff.  OSPR's Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) group works to facilitate the inclusion of JEDI principles in OSPR’s operations, and the OWCN has a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) group working on DEIA-related trainings and outreach & engagement for the extended network. There is communication between the OSPR JEDI and OWCN DEIA groups, as the working groups share 4 members in common.

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Group pictogram

OSPR is committed to fostering an inclusive work environment where people of all backgrounds, cultures, and personal experiences can thrive, and share its critical mission. The OSPR JEDI group works to identify and understand inequities and develop strategies to deliver a supportive environment in which all people are able to succeed and perform at their highest level in their day-to-day work, and during spill preparedness, prevention, and response efforts. The group works closely with OSPR staff and management, and with colleagues and leadership throughout CDFW to advance a positive inclusive work environment. 

The OSPR JEDI group consists of 16 members representing nearly all the groups within OSPR (such as legal, financial & administrative, law enforcement, preparedness, executive, environmental response, laboratory, resource restoration, and response technology). The group is building upon initiatives created by the CDFW Office of JEDI by incorporating these principles into the various oil spill response-related tasks conducted by OSPR staff. The group has been meeting monthly since August 2023 with a unique meeting format. During odd numbered months, the agenda has an educational-learning focus where the group can delve into specific topics, learn new tools, share information and resources, and have difficult conversations. Most of these educational focused meetings have been led by CDFW Office of JEDI staff. One of the educational topics was learning about the mapping tool CalEnviroScreen, which was created by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. This data-rich tool was used by OSPR Liaison staff during a 2023 spill event to identify non-English languages spoken by the local community affected by the spill. The Liaison group used that information to translate Public Notice flyers into the appropriate languages needed to inform the public. The next educational topic the group will be delving into is tribal engagement.

During even numbered months, the agenda has an operational focus; identifying and implementing changes that OSPR can make to improve JEDI internally. The group identifies issues and collaborates on solutions. One area of focus has been improving diversity and equity in recruitment and hiring. The JEDI team has created a list of job boards and other ways to reach more diverse candidates when posting jobs. The group has also created an extensive list of JEDI-related interview questions specific to spill preparedness and response that hiring managers can use to assess candidate understanding and support of JEDI-related issues and how they would apply them in their position. Tools and solutions that the OSPR JEDI group creates are shared with the broader OSPR community through a standing JEDI-related agenda item during the monthly managers and supervisors’ meetings and through the internal monthly OSPR newsletter. 

The work and dedication of the OSPR JEDI group has been recognized and appreciated by the CDFW Office of JEDI. The OSPR group has been asked to preview and provide input on trainings and ideas before sharing them more broadly within CDFW. For example, two OSPR JEDI members participated in a pilot training hosted by California’s Capitol Collaborative on Race & Equity (CCORE), which is designed to be “racial equity capacity-building for State employees.” Participants provided feedback on how to improve the modules for future trainees. Those who complete the CCORE series can serve as an “equity advisor” and could act as an equity liaison for their department colleagues. The OSPR JEDI group hopes that these efforts will make a tangible difference by making OSPR more attractive to diverse candidates and creating a workplace culture that is welcoming and supportive to all employees.

To stay current on CDFW-OSPR spill response activities, visit CalSpillWatch’s website and following CalSpillWatch via: XInstagram, and Facebook. To learn more about CDFW’s work on Tribal communication and consultation, visit CDFW Tribal Affairs. To support programs that protect California’s at-risk species through voluntary tax contributions, visit CDFW Voluntary Tax Contribution Funds


Primary Category