7 minutes | Jan 28, 2019

The Pledge ~ A promise of DE&I in the Outdoor Industry

On Friday the Trump administration signed legislation to reopen the federal government. For many of us, an end to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history couldn’t have come soon enough. The announcement arrived just in time for the 2019 Outdoor Retailer Snow Show that’s starting this week in Denver Colorado. Tens of thousands of federal employees in service of environmental protection can now get back to doing their very important work. And those of us in the business of outdoor recreation can continue our efforts to make our public lands more accessible to a broader cross section of the American public. That kind of reminded me of a story I produced over the summer that explores an ongoing initiative to bring more people of color into the outdoor industry. So with OR coming up this week I thought we might take a look back at “the Pledge”.   The Pledge creator Teresa Baker (right) with active lifestyle ambassador Mirna Velario For people in business of adventure sports the Outdoor Retailer Show is a really big deal. There you’ll find aisle after aisle of high-tech backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, hiking boots, GPS devices, tasty trail snacks and headlamps. To the outdoor professional it’s pretty much kids…meet candy store! But if you take a look around you’ll also see a lot rugged men with Nordic features, full beards and plaid shirts. These guys kind of embody what you imagine when you think “outdoorsman”.Through most of it existence, the outdoor industry has been…well…pretty white. Not many companies at OR that deal in outdoor gear have many employees who are Black, Latino, Asian or Native American. Only a few can claim a senior executive, owner or board member who is a person of color. But at the 2018 Summer Market Mario Stanley, a rock climbing instructor from Dallas, Texas said this year he noticed something different. Rock Climbing instructor Mario Stanley (left) Stanley>>Ah…the beautiful wave of brown walking around. I think that's probably the one thing I notice the most. And then I've also noticed that more people are engaging. JEM>>Not only were there more people of color at OR this year, Stanley, who’s Black, said there is more conversation around issues of race and what the industry can do to improve its diversity. Stanley>>The dialect has changed and they are allowing us to talk or asking us what are we doing for the greater POC community as a whole. And I think the biggest thing that I noticed this year was people are actually asking, “What are we doing?” JEM>>Research conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association, a trade group, indicates that people of color or POCs participate in outdoor recreation at rates lower than their white counterparts. In order to grow the market as well as the number of people overall who will help to protect the natural environment there is a concerted effort to bring more black and brown folks into the outdoor industry. Teresa Baker, an advocate for environmental justice, was at OR to promote an initiative she calls The Pledge Baker>>The pledge is a commitment that we are asking the owners of outdoor brands and retailers to commit to the work of diversity, racial diversity in the outdoors. JEM>>Through the Pledge, kind of a contract, Baker wants company executives to not only hire more people of color, but to create marketing and outreach strategies that appeal to a broader cross section of the American public. She’s not just interested in helping companies sell more products, but rather she hopes to encourage more people to care about the outdoors. Baker>>For me it really is about the environment and we need more people of color right now fighting for the environment. There are so many attacks on the land right now and the people that are missing from the conversation and the work are people of color. JEM>>As the current administration continues to roll back several of the environmental protections enacted over the last century,
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