Compassion at Work: Building a Stronger Movement Together

January 2018

Dear friends and supporters,

As our society is increasingly engaging in the difficult yet long overdue dialogue about gender inequities, discrimination, and sexual misconduct, the animal protection movement is now beginning to more openly acknowledge the reality that we are not immune to these issues. That’s why I’m reaching out to you today — to share our views and visions as well as the steps we’re taking to continue providing a safe and productive environment for the entire Compassion Over Killing family.

We at COK stand united in our mission to build a kinder world for all. Our core values of truth, justice, and compassion inform our strategic advocacy for animals as well as guide our interactions with the general public, supporters, volunteers, and each other.  

While women comprise the overwhelming majority of our movement, it’s notable that leadership roles and key decision-making positions within many organizations remain filled by men. This is one of the ways in which COK stands out, leading by example.

As the Executive Director of COK for the past 13 years, I have been one of the few female leaders within the farm animal protection movement. COK is also one of the few farm animal protection organizations with women holding top leadership positions, including that of General Counsel and Board Chair.

We know first-hand, as several of us have personally experienced, many of the challenges women face in our movement. We have fought — and continue to fight — relentlessly against a wide range of adversity and challenges from many sides in order to elevate our voices and vision for a more inclusive movement that embraces the idea of diversifying the ways we define strategic and effective advocacy.

Whenever individuals don’t feel safe or comfortable enough to fully engage in their work or related activities, our ability as a movement to bring about lasting and meaningful change is undermined. Harassment or other forms of discrimination disempower individuals and ultimately harm the animals we are all here to serve.

This is why we at COK take seriously all issues of oppression and unfairness and we’ve worked diligently over the years to create a workplace culture based on integrity, diversity, and inclusivity.

We continue to take proactive steps to ensure we provide a safe and productive workplace for all. Our comprehensive, zero-tolerance policy prohibiting sexual harassment and discrimination extends to all employees, interns, and volunteers. We also require sexual harassment training for all staff, as well as additional training specifically for supervisors.  

At COK, we believe our organization — and our movement — is strengthened and emboldened by fostering a diversity of voices, ideas, strategies, and perspectives. Creating a more inclusive culture in our movement that also accepts and encourages critical, yet productive dialogue requires a foundation of mutual respect, and more specifically a safe environment that is free from harassment, prejudice, and threats. This is vital for the sustainability and integrity of our movement, and it’s vital for the sake of the billions of animals we are all here to protect.  

In order to make this vision a reality, we must all work together and stand united in our shared mission to fight for compassion, justice, and equality for all.  

In solidarity,

Erica Meier
Executive Director
Compassion Over Killing


View Animal Outlook’s policy prohibiting discrimination and sexual harassment