Chicago Zoological Society is committed to promoting diversity among its staff at Brookfield Zoo and in the field. The Society understands the importance of attracting and retaining talented professionals of different backgrounds from all over the world. A more diverse workforce provides many benefits to the organization by enabling the institution to draw upon a greater richness of resources, experiences, ideas, and talents.

By valuing and capitalizing on diversity, the Society can be more effective in carrying out its important mission of creating conservation leaders. By tapping into a greater wealth of knowledge, backgrounds, perspectives, and experience, the Society is able to more effectively develop and deliver programs and products and provide extraordinary experiences for our over two million guests each year.

In this effort, Chicago Zoological Society has launched a Diversity Initiative designed to create and foster an organizational culture and workplace environment where diversity is not only valued, but celebrated and utilized to optimize the performance of the organization. The initiative benefits both employees and guests through continued recruitment, training, and staff development activities, all focused on developing a diverse, highly talented workforce. As an organization that is dedicated to wildlife and habitat conservation, we recognize and appreciate the value of diversity in all its dimensions.

Here are some questions frequently asked questions about the Society’s Diversity Initiative.

How will the Diversity Initiative affect me as an employee?

As an employee of Chicago Zoological Society, you will have the opportunity to work for a world-class organization that values diversity, through respect and appreciation of people’s many differences. This includes many aspects of each person’s identity, including cultural background and ethnicity, age, gender, socioeconomic status, marital status, religion, education, sexual orientation, and more. It also includes other aspects of each person's identity, such as one’s individual style, the way an individual communicates and learns, values and norms, beliefs and attitudes, work habits, and much more. The Society values each individual and the unique ideas, background, qualifications, and talents that he or she brings to the organization.

What does diversity have to do with the Chicago Zoological Society or Brookfield Zoo?

The Society works to inform people about the diversity of living animals and plants and their marvelous adaptations for life, particularly for the 2 million guests who visit Brookfield Zoo each year. We illustrate for our many guests and staff the important relationships animals and plants have in their natural habitats.

The Society educates people about the importance of conservation and to inform them about important conservation issues, including animals, habitats, and ecosystems around the world that are threatened or endangered. It is hoped that zoo guests will better understand how interlinked we, humans, are with other, and with creatures and environments around the world so that people will be motivated to take informed, responsible environmental actions in order to preserve our living heritage for generations to come.

As awareness and concern for environmental issues continues to increase, so will the need for people of all types to work together cooperatively if we are to hope to resolve these complex environmental issues and make positive change. Recognizing this need, the Society has taken proactive measures to provide a work environment where relationships can be developed and maintained, both personally and professionally, and to provide a setting where people can work together effectively and productively towards these important conservation purposes.

What kinds of opportunities exist for people of color?

Despite the growth of job opportunities, the zoo and aquarium industry, on the whole, is under-represented with respect to cultural diversity. Chicago Zoological Society has taken proactive measures to increase diversity within its workforce at all levels of the organization. The Society has an Affirmative Action Plan designed to improve employment opportunities for minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and covered veterans. The steps involved include identifying problem areas, setting goals, and taking action to enhance employment and advancement opportunities at all levels and in all departments for protected groups.

Some of these measures include: working to develop and expand recruitment sources, relationships, programs, and visibility and to build a network within the community; promoting a workplace environment of respect, understanding, and inclusiveness; working to recruit, employ, and pro­mote people at all levels of the organization based on individual merit and qualifications; ensuring that employment deci­sions serve to foster the Society’s diversity commitment; and continuing to develop staff capacities by encouraging zoo careers and providing employees with the training, skills, and knowledge needed to grow, qualify for advancement, and to assume more responsibility in the future.

How can I find out more about the Chicago Zoological Society’s Diversity Initiative?

Contact Sandi Dornhecker, Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Program Coordinator, at sandi.dornhecker@czs.org.