Let’s talk about diversity and inclusion in the outdoor industry
Early in the year, the Women of KEEN* (WoK) sent out a survey asking employees what issues they wanted to focus on in 2017. Overwhelmingly, answers centered around diversity and inclusion in the outdoor industry. Our industry.
So, we started reaching out to our partners and outdoor industry thought leaders. What we found were people doing kick-ass, inspiring work to open up the outdoors to under-represented populations, reaching across socio-economic lines, race, and gender to make the outdoors “the most level playing field on earth.”
On September 18th, WoK hosted a panel discussion and happy hour at KEEN headquarters in Portland, Oregon, with these inspiring folks:
James Edward Mills, Author of The Adventure Gap & Founder of The Joy Trip Project.
Sydney Clark, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, National Outdoor Leadership School.
Casey Sheahan, KEEN President
What followed was a robust discussion on diversity and inclusion complete with strategies, challenges, and the acknowledgement that this work can be both joyful and painful, as it may force people to confront and unpack their own biases.
We discussed hiring practices: the importance of forming community partnerships so that when positions do become available there are more channels and resources to draw candidates from. We talked about cost and equipment barriers, intimidation, and defining “the outdoors” differently, to be more inclusive and accessible for everyone, rather than expensive expeditions only available to a select few.
The idea that diversity and inclusion are good for business was a key takeaway from the event. Bringing more people to the table with different passions and different backgrounds helps our industry grow, thrive, and keep up with changing trends.
We’re going to keep the conversation going. Watch for more on our Facebook page.
*Women of KEEN exists to create an environment where our diverse community thrives. The group focuses on advocating and celebrating our KEEN communities through healthy initiatives, focused stewardship, and leadership development. Both men and women are encouraged to join!