Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers by Kyle Tansley/Macaulay Library

Welcome to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a community committed to valuing, respecting, and including people of every gender, ethnicity, race, skin color, religion, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation, nationality, age, and other identities. By continually learning and living the principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ), we are committed to addressing the persistent challenges and harms of discrimination and oppression in the past and present. We work to meet such challenges both at the Lab and in our collaborations around the world. We invite you to join us in celebrating our differences and uniting in the mission to understand and protect birds and the natural world. This statement of values is a living document.

Acknowledging discrimination, systems of oppression, and the pervasive harm they inflict upon individuals and society is necessary to build a more just and equitable future. We understand that we have individual and collective responsibilities to build practices, norms, and systems that foster justice, and that good aspirations alone are not enough. In order to promote equitable and just change in the world, we are committed to the challenging work required to eliminate inequity and embedded biases within our workplace and in our work and collaborations. As part of Cornell University, that includes grappling with the history of the very land our building rests on.

Land Acknowledgment

Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ (the Cayuga Nation). The Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign Nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York State, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ dispossession, and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ people, past and present, to these lands and waters.

This land acknowledgment has been reviewed and approved by the traditional Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’ leadership. Read more about the land acknowledgment.

What Do Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Mean to Us?

Our commitment to four evolving principles helps guide our actions. DIVERSITY is the celebration of the many identities that everyone brings to our community—our differences make us who we are and enrich us all. EQUITY means accounting for the different challenges and advantages in life that people have experienced in order to promote fair conduct and equal opportunity. When every member of the community feels that their voice and perspective are respected, that they are given the supports they need to succeed, and that their value is recognized, we will have achieved INCLUSION. Finally, JUSTICE requires that we acknowledge how the history of our communities, institutions, and society has shaped the present, and that we use this understanding to build a better future. Through all four principles, we aspire to an atmosphere of mutual trust, respect, and accountability.

Living Our Principles Through Actions

Our principles are not hypothetical ideals—we consider them to be guides for our everyday behavior and a minimum standard of conduct necessary to respect the dignity of all. We recognize that living up to these principles is an ongoing commitment. These principles must be lived every day through our individual conduct, collective responsibility, and aspirations. We are not perfect, but we hope that our imperfections will arise from genuine efforts to embody our values, and will enable us to learn and evolve.

In our first steps toward growth, we have incorporated DEIJ goals into our strategic plan and created a standing committee whose mission is to cultivate a DEIJ-forward Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We have redrafted the Lab’s Values to include DEIJ principles and sought to integrate our equity goals more fully into everything we do. We have hired an outside consultant to help us perform a thorough audit to identify and correct policies and practices that negatively impact DEIJ. We commit to evaluating all new policies and practices for their impact on DEIJ.

For additional, specific resources on combating racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia, please see the Cornell University Diversity and Inclusion pages.

We acknowledge that we have much to learn and do to adopt DEIJ principles and practices throughout our work. We look to the leadership and examples set by our most DEIJ-forward programs and partners and welcome your feedback on our growth.

We Welcome and Value You

As we strive to foster a community where everyone feels they belong, we invite you to bring your full self to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology community with the promise that you will be respected and valued for who you are. You are welcome at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology regardless of your gender, ethnicity, race, skin color, religion, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, nationality, age, or other identities. We’re so glad you’re here. Let’s enjoy, study, and protect birds and nature together.

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Golden-cheeked Warbler by Bryan Calk/Macaulay Library