Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Our statement, accountability, and action plan

RedRover recognizes the deep systemic racism within the animal welfare sector. Our mission is to bring animals out of crisis and strengthen the bond between people and animals – but the lives of animals do not exist in a vacuum. We cannot fully and effectively help animals without looking deeply at ourselves and how we treat one another. Therefore, we see diversity, inclusion, and equity as integral and vital to the success of our mission, as well as to the well-being of our staff, volunteers, and the people and communities we serve.

RedRover is committed to examining the way we do our work and accomplish our mission with the goal of increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and sense of belonging. RedRover is committed to working in stronger partnership with the people and communities we serve and actively seeking representation from those communities for our governing Board of Directors and for our staff and volunteers.

More specifically:


  • We respect and value diverse life experiences and heritages and ensure that all voices are valued and heard.
  • We will engage in ongoing learning and examining our own biases.
  • We are committed to nondiscrimination, providing equal opportunity for employment and advancement, and ensuring our internal review and promotion practices are equitable.
  • We will create and maintain diverse and equitable work environments with a strong sense of safety and belonging for our staff and volunteers.
  • We are committed to modeling diversity, equity, and inclusion for the animal welfare sector and to encouraging those we work closely with to make this commitment with us.



The Need


Definitions & Word Choice




Action Plan

In our work to build a more empathetic society for all, the intersection between human injustice and animal suffering matters. And this means social justice, including racial justice, is also our cause. Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color are significantly underrepresented in animal welfare organizations at every level, but especially in leadership positions. The systemic racism and underlying bias that plague us as a society impact the policies and practices that govern our nonprofit organizations and have excluded and oppressed people of color. Finding ways to identify bias, celebrate and invite diversity, and develop and embrace inclusive practices can repair the divisions in our society and support equity, as well as help animals. For example, just a 3% increase in the adoption of shelter animals among people of color would lead to 2 million more animals in new loving homes. (For more statistics, visit careawo.org.)

  • Diversity: The range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs.
  • Equity: A state of equity is one of justice and fairness
  • Inclusion: Inclusion recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and values respect for the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living of its members. Inclusive practices lead to a sense of belonging.
  • Diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace: A diverse, inclusive, and equitable (DEI) workplace is one where all employees and volunteers, whatever their gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation or identity, education or disability, feel valued, respected, and treated with fairness.
  • Bias: An inclination for or against an idea, object, group, or individual. It is often learned and is highly dependent on variables like a person’s socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, educational background, etc. At the individual level, bias can negatively impact someone’s personal and professional relationships; at a societal level, it can lead to unfair persecution of a group.
  • Systemic racism: Systems in place that perpetuate racial injustice, bias, and inequities.
  • Anti-racism: The ways in which it is possible to identify inequities and dismantle systemic racism. Becoming antiracist requires examining bias, policies, and practices entrenched in established ways of doing things that have excluded and oppressed Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color. Being antiracist requires changing systems and policies to achieve equity.
  • Racialized people:People who have been marginalized, discriminated against, and oppressed due to their perceived race, skin tone or other physical characteristics.
  • Historically marginalized: People who have been discriminated against throughout our nation’s history, and into its present, due to their perceived race, skin tone, or ethnicity.
  • Social justice: Social justice dictates that each human being has equal worth and should have equal opportunity for social integration, economic and social advancement, and conditions that promote optimal health. Economic and social mobility in the United States is now less than in most industrialized and wealthy countries. Significant differences exist between racialized groups and non-racialized groups in access to adequate housing, quality education, career and employment opportunities, safe neighborhoods, protection from environmental hazards, access to government services, and wealth. These discrepancies in access to opportunity have significant effects on health, quality of life, and length of life and are perpetuated through socio-cultural forces at play over generations. Black individuals, by virtue of their unique history, treatment, and past and present experiences in the United States and Canada, have been denied equal access and been disproportionately affected by these discrepancies.
  • “All lives matter” vs. “Black Lives Matter” within animal welfare and the animal protection movement: We are glad animals’ lives matter to so many because it is RedRover’s mission to help animals in crisis and bring more awareness to the value of animals in our lives and the powerful bonds we can share. That said, we are sensitive to the context in which the phrase “all lives matter'' diminishes the importance and significance of the Black Lives Matter movement, so we do not use this language.

We are committed to Board-level thinking around examining the structural inequities that have contributed to historically marginalized people being underrepresented and underserved within the animal welfare sector. We are committed to learning and implementing ways RedRover can address these inequities in ways that most impact our mission. The RedRover Board of Directors has approved this policy, as well as the Action Plan below which will be updated quarterly, shared with our supporters, and posted online to show our progress.

– What we've accomplished –


  • Initiated Anti-Racism Working Group - June 2020
  • Full staff attended Critical Diversity Solution’s (CDS) training, “Leveraging Diversity Challenges for Equity, Inclusivity, and Social Impact”
  • Full staff attended CDS’s session on “History of Racism in Animal Welfare” - November 2020
  • Consult with CDS on staff and Board recruitment, HR policies and procedures, and the plan for Responders volunteers - January 2021
  • Initiated DEI Policy Task Force (staff and board) - October 2020
  • Approve DEI policy - March 2020
  • Full Board of Directors take the “Leveraging Diversity Challenges for Equity, Inclusivity and Social Impact” training - March 2021
  • Follow/listen to Black, Indigenous, and people of color leadership/voices through LinkedIn, etc. - June 2020 - ongoing
  • Recruit and bring onboard at least one BIPOC Board Director - February 2021
  • Update Employee Handbook, policies, and procedures to ensure we are celebrating diversity and maximizing a sense of inclusion and belonging and make clear our commitment to identify and examine policies and practices entrenched in established ways of doing things that have perpetuated the exclusion and oppression of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC) - March 2021
  • Update and implement third-party fundraising process to engage partners in taking steps to become anti-racist/support DEI - March 2021
  • Update new staff recruitment and hiring processes; for example, include DEI language in recruitment materials, add job posting to CDS recommended sites, increase job posting sites by 100% - February 2021
  • Update new board posting, recruitment, selection, training, and orientation processes - April 2021
  • All managers at RedRover read and discuss the book Crucial Conversations to assist in communicating difficult topics with staff/volunteers - Fall 2020 - September 2021
  • Update new board director application and recruitment processes - April 2021
  • Governance/Strategy Committee interviews at least two Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color Board candidates - November 2021
  • Bring on board an additional BIPOC Board Director - January 2022
  • Began work with a culture consultant to further incorporate DEIB into RedRover's existing culture - September 2023

RedRover Readers and Kind News magazine

  • Identify a new RedRover Readers book with Black representation and written by a Black author - February 2021
  • Audited Kind News magazine issues to scan for areas of improvement and opportunities to be more inclusive and equitable - July 2021
  • Created Cultural Awareness and literacy slide for the RedRover Readers online workshop - August 2021
  • Reviewed RedRover Readers outreach strategies and workshop recruitment email to generate ideas on appropriate ways to capture demographic data of our educators and volunteers that use the program - September 2022
  • Reviewed Kind News magazine outreach strategies and communications to create a more diverse readership - November 2022
  • Identified and added Native-centered and -authored books to the RedRover Readers curriculum - March 2023
  • Increased use of the HeARTs Speak Pets & People photo library for Kind News images to "increase inclusivity and provide a welcoming environment for all community members" - March 2024

RedRover Responders

  • Worked with a consultant to review and update our policies and procedures, and to review and update the RedRover Responders online volunteer training
  • Provided DEIB training for our RedRover Responders Team Leaders

– Ongoing –


  • Review all new major partners, vendors, and sponsors for their commitment to anti-racism and DEI
  • Audit website and communications and implement strategies to accurately represent RedRover where we are today as well as where we want to be
  • Track individual staff continued anti-racist education: books, conferences, webinars, etc., and report to Board and RedRover Leadership; all managers participate in one DEI learning per quarter in 2021 and record in the professional development log
  • Ensure RedRover culture and workplace is diverse, equitable, and inclusive
  • Seek out partnerships with BIPOC-led organizations and diverse nonprofits within the communities we serve
  • Implementing Culture Road Map per culture consultant’s recommendations
  • Ensure our messaging, photo, and video communications are representative of our existing programs as well as the communities we serve and pets and people we support
  • Elevate the voices of BIPGM individuals and organizations that share our mission and intent to honor cultural and historical learnings, holidays, activities, and experiences


RedRover Readers and Kind News magazine

  • Develop strategy for ongoing audit of program diversity and representation
  • Continue working with community partners to increase diverse reach of programs
  • Identify additional Native-centered and -authored books to the curriculum
  • Continue to develop high-quality, inclusive magazine content


RedRover Responders

  • Create a safe and inclusive work environment for volunteers
  • Develop and implement a plan to recruit/mentor/engage BIPOC volunteers from communities we serve
  • Require Implicit Bias training for all RedRover Responders volunteers to complete prior to deploying


RedRover Relief

  • Analyze data of current clients and application process to assess accessibility and inclusivity
  • Research existing information and resources related to the lack of pet-inclusive housing including breed-restrictive legislation, size restrictions/limits, restrictive insurance policies, and fees that disproportionately impact BIPOC
  • Build a robust list of breed-inclusive insurance providers and share these providers on RedRover and Don’t Forget the Pets website, emails, and social media channels
  • Follow industry leaders to track current legislative pushes for pet-friendly housing and support these efforts through email campaigns and social posts, as relevant
  • Provide information on relevant training/learning opportunities on DEIB issues and how they impact pet-inclusive housing, domestic violence, and homelessness

– Upcoming –


    • Explore language translation plug-ins for the website and move forward with implementation
    • Explore UI (user interface) Languages on our donation forms and move forward with implementation

RedRover Readers and Kind News magazine

    • Analyze data of current program participants and subscribers
    • Survey subscribers about inclusivity of magazine and provide optional opportunity for them to share school and teacher demographics

RedRover Responders

    • Develop and implement a plan to recruit/mentor/engage BIPOC volunteers from communities we serve