We’re committed to ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion are intrinsic to Academy culture, from recruitment and retention to science and advocacy. Explore this page for updates on this ongoing, essential work.

As a public cultural institution dedicated to inquiry, exploration, and education, the Academy has an ethical, moral, and scientific mandate to critically assess how we benefit from—and contribute to—deeply unjust societal systems. Beyond assessment, we need to act. We need to do better at listening to, learning from, and lifting up the communities in our midst that suffer disproportionately from systemic racism, structural inequality, and environmental injustice.

While we recognize that our road to racial equity is still very much under construction, we’re deeply committed to ensuring our actions match our values—and to communicating our progress with you along the way. Here we’ll share our latest updates about the Academy’s ongoing inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility work.

Racial Equity Action Plan: Phase 1

As part of our commitment to creating and maintaining an equitable and inclusive institution, we’ve developed a Racial Equity Action Plan in partnership with the City and County of San Francisco’s Office of Racial Equity. This document summarizes the Academy’s current, ongoing, and future practices and will continue to be updated as we complete this critical work in 2021 and beyond.

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Hiring a diversity consultant

In November, a diverse selection committee of staff representing many departments and levels of the institution began the process of interviewing candidates for the Academy’s diversity consultant. After several months of thoughtful evaluation and in-depth interviews to find the best partner for this critically important role, we will have a consultant selected by the end of January and work will begin immediately. This consultant will guide our work to understand and identify the needs and opportunities within our institution, build a measurable action plan for integrating diversity and equity into all facets of the Academy’s new strategy, and scale up how we measure progress, set meaningful goals, and ensure accountability.

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Anti-racism in science

As a leading scientific institution, the Academy is committed to cultivating an inclusive environment to conduct, share, and champion diversity in science for staff, visitors, and the global community. Read the statement drafted by scientists within our Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability (IBSS), along with commitments they’ve made to work towards equitable, actively anti-racist science at the Academy—and within the scientific community—now and in the future. This work has already begun and we will share progress updates here soon.

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Staff demographics

We recognize that in order to take meaningful action to increase racial and ethnic diversity across the institution, we must first understand where we are. View the most recent staff demographic data for the Academy, including a breakdown of all staff and leadership (director-level and above).

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Contact us

Thank you for your interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Academy. Please feel free to share your thoughts via the link below. 

Black Lives Matter

On June 4, 2020, Dr. Scott Sampson, the Academy's Executive Director, shared a statement of support for Black Lives Matter with staff and Trustees.

Click to view statement

The events of recent weeks have shone a bright spotlight on racism in America—particularly against Black Americans. Alongside the killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police and Ahmaud Arbery by white civilians, we have witnessed COVID-19 disproportionately result in sickness and death within communities of color.

I have watched recent events with horror, disgust, and shame at what we as a society continue to allow.

The societal systems we participate in—legal, health, education, and housing, among others—privilege some and discriminate against others. Those who benefit most from this privilege must join the hard work to make these systems equitable.

So, what is the role of the California Academy of Sciences and other science museums at this moment and moving forward?

First, I believe we must build stronger internal systems to actively root out and fight systemic racism. We must truly embrace diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility at all levels of our organization, including among staff, Trustees, Fellows, and volunteers. Currently, our staff, including leadership, does not include enough people of color. Not only should all visitors see themselves reflected in the Academy’s people, we should also seek opportunities in our materials, programs, exhibits, online content, and events to proactively celebrate cultural differences and amplify historically suppressed voices.

Second, we must work harder to ensure that all communities of color have equitable access to high-quality learning opportunities. Here, the Academy needs to build on its previous successes—scaling up accessibility to free and reduced admission, designing outreach and teacher professional development programs for under-resourced communities, and providing career internships for youth of color.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, we must listen and become more responsive to the unique needs of the diverse communities we serve. And we must build long-term relationships and alliances that keep us engaged with the struggles and successes of these communities over time. We can help make science the domain of everyone, rather than a select few. In addition, given the Academy’s focus on the intersection of people and the natural world, we can support the fight for ecological justice, including access to healthy air, water, food, and nature.

The Academy has not done enough. We know that we need to do much more. In the coming weeks, we will establish an internal staff team to develop an action plan around anti-racism, diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. We will seek help from outside experts, and weave this plan into our new organizational strategy. Our efforts to change societal systems must begin in our own house.

Now and tomorrow, we stand in solidarity with those calling for an end to racism.

Scott D. Sampson, PhD
Executive Director, California Academy of Sciences
William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair