Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

We at The Ocean Foundation acknowledge where disparities in diversity and equitable opportunities and practices exist in marine conservation today and are striving to do our part to address them. Whether it means directly instituting changes or working with our friends and peers in the marine conservation community to institute these changes, we’re striving to make our community more equitable, more diverse, and more inclusive at every level.

At the Ocean Foundation, diversity, equity, and inclusion are core cross-cutting values. We established the formal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative to support TOF’s leadership in the development and implementation of new policies and procedures to institutionalize these values in the organization’s operations and the broader TOF community of advisors, project managers, and grantees. TOF’s DEI initiative also promotes these core values to the marine conservation sector as a whole.


Marine conservation efforts cannot be effective if the solutions are designed without engaging all those who share in our collective responsibility to be good stewards of the ocean. The only way to do this is by proactively and deliberately engaging members of traditionally marginalized groups in decision making, and practicing equity in funding distribution and conservation approaches. How are we accomplishing that?

  • We’re providing opportunities for future marine conservationists through our dedicated Marine Pathways Internship program
  • We’re incorporating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion lens into all facets of our conservation work to ensure our work promotes equitable practices, supports those who share similar values, and helps others embed those values in their work
  • We’re using the platforms available to us to promote equitable practices in conservation approaches
  • We’re participating in efforts to monitor and track Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion activities in the sector through GuideStar and surveys from peer organizations
  • We’re making every effort to ensure that our recruitment for the Board of Directors, the staff, and the Board of Advisors generates a pool of candidates who reflect our DEI goals.
  • We’re striving to ensure that the staff, and board receive the types of training needed to deepen understanding and build capacity to address negative behaviors and promote inclusion.

Diving Deeper

What does Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion actually mean?
As defined by The Independent Sector and D5 Coalition

Diversity – includes all the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. While diversity is often used in reference to race, ethnicity, and gender, we embrace a broader definition of diversity that also includes age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. Our definition also includes diversity of thought: ideas, perspectives, and values. We also recognize that individuals affiliate with multiple identities.

Equity – the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources.

Inclusion – refers to the degree to which diverse individuals are able to participate fully in the decision-making processes within an organization or group. Inclusive and welcoming practices embrace differences and offer respect in words and actions for all people.

Why it’s important

The Ocean Foundation’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practices were established to address the lack of diversity in the marine conservation community and the lack of equitable practices in all facets of the sector; from funding distribution to conservation priorities. 

Our DEI Committee includes representation from the Board, staff, and others outside the formal organization and reports to the President. The Committee’s goal is to ensure that the DEI initiative and its underlying actions remain on track.


Ocean sunset and waves


Is There Hope?

My Capitol Hill Ocean Week Experience

People on beach at night


Authentically Pursuing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:

The first step to changing the world.

Seaweb Seafood Summit participants


Advancing Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit