Our Commitment to Racial Justice and Equity at Oil Change International
Oil Change International (OCI) is committed to equity and racial justice both in our external work and within our organization.
We believe that phasing out the fossil fuel industry requires uprooting the unjust systems that enabled its expansion and that distribute its impacts unequally among us: white supremacy, colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy, ableism, and other systems of oppression. To effectively expose the true costs of fossil fuels and achieve climate justice, we must address these root causes of harm.
We recognize that Indigenous Peoples, people of color, and other frontline and structurally oppressed communities have done the least to cause the climate crisis, yet are confronting the worst and most direct impacts of fossil fuel extraction and climate destruction, including: local air and water pollution, human rights abuses, labor exploitation, forced displacement, sexual violence, and the devastation of ecosystems and traditional livelihoods. Indigenous Peoples, people of color, and low-income communities are also most at risk of violence for speaking out and defending their lands and ways of life, in every country but particularly in the Global South.
We also recognize that the communities closest to the impacts are closest to the solutions and leading the way to climate justice. The climate justice movement is led, stewarded, and inspired by movements to end anti-Black and all forms of racism, movements for Indigenous sovereignty, global justice, labor, and LGBTQIA2S+ peoples’ rights, grassroots peoples’ movements, and more.
Recognizing these realities and truths, OCI strives to continually ensure our goals, vision, and strategy are rooted in solidarity and oriented towards sharing what power we have in a way that builds the collective power of movements for justice. That is the only way to achieve Oil Change International’s vision.
We also strive to repair specific and ongoing harms caused by colonialism and racism within environmental and climate movement spaces, including in our own organization. We will only be effective in pushing for climate justice if we are aware of and working to dismantle power imbalances, disparities in access to resources, networks, and professional support, microaggressions, and other impacts of injustice that harm people within our own organization and movement and undermine our collective goals. Transformation must start from within.
In our work and within our organization, we commit to:
- Ground our work in meaningful relationships with structurally oppressed and frontline communities affected by the fossil fuel industry;
- Seek guidance from relevant structurally oppressed and frontline communities before commencing work on a new campaign or in a new location;
- Support justice for communities affected by fossil fuel extraction and the climate crisis and hold polluters accountable for past and present harms;
- Work to grow cross-movement power toward racial justice, equity, and decolonization;
- Amplify the voices and demands of Indigenous peoples, communities of color, grassroots movements, and frontline communities, and hand the mic to them, where we have the opportunity to do so;
- Build an organizational culture that is safe and empowering for all staff and prioritizes collective well-being – so that team members can show up as their whole and authentic selves and be valued for the skills and perspectives they add; and
- Develop and apply a racial justice and equity lens across our organizational systems and policies, with the goal of embodying our values of justice in the way we structure our organization and show up for each other.
Ultimately, these words set our intention, but do not determine our impact. We also understand that diversity and inclusion do not equal justice. We invite our staff, funders, campaign, and movement partners, and supporters to hold us accountable to these words and to let us know when we are not living up to them. We humbly acknowledge that living up to our ideals is a long-term and ongoing process.
Our Values at Oil Change International
Oil Change International bases our work in our collective fight for social, environmental, and climate justice. To achieve our mission we must be guided by equitable, anti-racist, and people-centered values. Ensuring these values show up in our work and in our organizational culture requires continuous learning, evaluation, and dedication – it’s an ongoing process, not a destination.
We strive for justice
- We campaign for social, environmental, and climate justice, holding bad actors accountable for the harms of fossil fuel extraction and climate change. This means speaking truth to power, following the leadership of, and supporting communities most impacted by the fossil fuel industry and the climate crisis.
- Within Oil Change International, we actively work to break down existing power structures to ensure fairness and equity in our relationships and ways of working. We work to ensure equity and justice are a cornerstone of organizational decisions.
- We acknowledge our privilege and limits as a mostly Global North-based organization and we strive to use this position to promote an uncompromising vision for global justice.
We work for transformational movement building
- We strive to empower others by making powerful analysis and data accessible to the movement and to decision makers. We strive to prioritize work that grows movement power towards our vision for social, environmental, and climate justice. We view transformational movement building as core to achieving our mission; to change everything, we need new allies and alliances, especially with structurally oppressed and frontline communities.
- We will not be able to build transformational movements without transforming ourselves. Internally, we work to diversify our recruitment and to support current staff in their growth. We promote kindness, camaraderie, and authenticity, and value the richness that comes from diversity.
We show solidarity
- We aim to show up in real ways as allies to the partners and communities we work with in our collective fight for justice, and to use our privilege to mobilize and shift resources both financially and otherwise. We recognize genuine, strong relationships take time and effort to build and nurture.
- We follow meaningful leadership from grassroots movements and those communities most impacted by the climate crisis in our work.
- Internally, we build a caring, equitable work environment in which all can thrive.
We aim toward a visionary strategy
- We aim to push for the highest level of ambition in our work, and to embrace bold and new ideas to achieve a more just, sustainable, and equitable future.
- We challenge ourselves to think beyond existing structures, to take ownership for our part in these structures, and to avoid duplicating or reinforcing existing systems of oppression.
- We adopt an unflinching approach to speaking truth to power and promoting accountability for those responsible for the damages of the extractive, neocolonial economic system everywhere.
We promote collective sustainability
- We encourage each other to have whole lives outside of work, with space to support families, hobbies, community building, and other joyful practices.
- We strive for balance in our work and lives to give us the energy to fight for climate justice over the long haul.
- We are honest with one another – and with our allies – about our capacity to contribute, to avoid creating expectations we can’t meet.
We value transparency
- We are transparent about decisions, decision-making processes, and our priorities, resources and capacity, both internally and in our work with partners. We share information, documents, and resources to the greatest extent possible, internally, with our partners, and with the public.
- We seek participatory decision-making processes both within our organization and in our work with partners and coalitions.
- We ensure that our campaign goals, demands, and internal processes reflect these values (e.g. ensuring transparency and public participation in decision making and just transition planning, and supporting energy democracy).
- We are independent and non-partisan.
We build integrity and take responsibility
- We know information is power, and how we leverage power for impact is critical. We welcome and value critique on our activities and communication and value collaboration with others to improve our analysis and strategies.
- We believe climate action must have integrity. We will pursue solutions in line with what climate science demands, and push for what international and intergenerational climate justice and equity demands.
- We work to be accountable to the movements we serve, to our partners and coalitions, and to ourselves.
- We value constant learning and evaluation, both internally and with our partners in movement spaces, striving to learn from our successes and failures and own our mistakes. We will strive to be honest and open about our goals and our activities in all of our relationships, internal and external.