How Outdoor Prolink Will Help Diversify the Outdoors
We hope the outdoor industry looks a whole lot different in five years. Hope is not a strategy, so here is our plan to help diversify the outdoors.
In the last few weeks, the entire team at Outdoor Prolink has spent more time discussing race and racism than we have in our last fifteen years of business. Reflecting on that truth is uncomfortable, disappointing and we are not proud of it. The current revolution sparked by the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Robert Fuller, Malcolm Harsch and many others has shaken the team at Outdoor Prolink into action. We made a statement of solidarity with Black Lives Matter on Black Tuesday, and since that day have been working on an action plan to make justice, equity, diversity and inclusion central to our mission and our work.
Connection with the outdoors makes people come alive. Nature heals, challenges and inspires us. These experiences should be equally accessible and welcome to all people. Our membership base of outdoor professionals is the leading edge of the outdoor industry and outdoor recreation. They impact the makeup of participation in outdoor recreation and are the core technical consumers that outdoor brands design products for. It is imperative that outdoor professionals represent a broad, intersectional coalition that reflects the beautiful and diverse country we live in. Careers in the outdoor industry should be accessible to everyone, not just white, able-bodied and privileged Americans. Outdoor Prolink is uniquely positioned to be a key driver of this shift towards a more diverse and inclusive outdoor employment and recreation landscape.
We are proud to share that our CEO, Gareth Richards, has signed the Outdoor Diversity Pledge from the In Solidarity Project, and has named our Head of Marketing, Kenzie Rodriguez, to drive Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) initiatives at Outdoor Prolink from here forward.
Outdoor Prolink’s Commitments
Today we are committing to the following, tangible actions to diversify the outdoors:
- Train and educate our employees about diversity, equity and inclusion
- Hire a more diverse workforce and executive leadership
- Allocate funds to nonprofits working to diversify the outdoors
- Establish an American Mountain Guides Association scholarship for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)
- Share representative social media, marketing and advertising
- Diversify our team of Dirtbag Dreams gear testers
- Expand our membership outreach initiatives to diversify our membership base
- Use our platform to pass the mic and amplify the voices of a broad coalition of outdoor pros from all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations and abilities
- Seek out partnerships with outdoor brands who are founded and/or lead by BIPOC
- Partner with outdoor brands who have prioritized JEDI and anti-racism as their core values, who hire and fairly pay people of color, sponsor athletes of color and showcase BIPOC in the marketing and advertising
Donations for Outdoor Afro
We’ve had an outpouring of requests from our members to add a new non-profit to our checkout donations. Today we are excited to announce that we will now collect donations for Outdoor Afro on Outdoor Prolink. Outdoor Afro has become the nation’s leading, cutting edge network that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. They help people take better care of themselves, our communities, and our planet! Outdoor Afro is a national non-profit organization with leadership networks around the country. With nearly 80 leaders in 30 states from around the country, Outdoor Afro connects thousands of people to outdoor experiences, who are changing the face of conservation.
American Mountain Guides Association Scholarship
For many outdoor professionals, a course through the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) is the start of their career in the outdoors. In order to create more outdoor leaders of color, we need to make professional education through organizations like the AMGA accessible for all. We are excited to announce that Outdoor Prolink has partnered with the AMGA to create a scholarship for BIPOC. We will be sharing more details about the scholarship, including how to apply, in the coming weeks.
To raise funds for this scholarship, we’ve created an Outdoor Prolink pop-up shop with limited edition OPL apparel. All proceeds will go directly to the Outdoor Prolink AMGA scholarship fund. Check it out and grab some new swag on the Outdoor Prolink Bonfire Store!
These are just the first few steps on a very long, challenging trail. But one thing that we never turn away in the outdoors in discomfort. In fact, we thrive on it and seek it out in everything that we do. We know we won’t always get it right, but we are ready to listen, learn and change. We hope you are too.
Join the conversation in our Community Facebook Group, we hope to see you there!
We have a lot of work to do. Before I feel the same exhilaration of climbing a mountain I felt before COVID and Minneapolis, and knowing more than I did back in February. Knowing that it’s expensive, and exclusive and what have I done to share the beauty of freedom of the hills with people who are still trying to simply be free. Knowing that the original outdoors were understood and appreciated and respected by indigenous people who were driven from existence by people who feared the wilderness and aimed to conquer it. That I’m living (and hiking and climbing) on that land that they conquered. Knowing that climbing is a luxury and that first, according to Maslow’s hierarchy, we have to attend to people who can’t breathe under the weight of history that is pressing on them in the present. I’m not sure where I should start but I’m thinking about that a lot.
Hey David – thanks for your thoughtful comment. We really appreciate your perspective, and we agree, we have a lot of work to do. We feel so lucky to be able to experience and recreate in our wild places and, understanding and being aware that climbing, hiking, etc. on those lands are luxuries that not all people are able to experience is key. We think the steps we’ve outlined will help us change that!