We Need More Diverse Role Models in the Outdoor Industry

I recently met with the team at Camber Outdoors. We were talking about strategies to cultivate a more diverse talent pipeline with programs like REI’s Force of Nature, Paradigm for Parity, and Camber’s own CEO Pledge and Pitchfest in July. In looking deeper at REI’s Force of Nature campaign, one fact caught my eye. 63 percent of women said they could not think of a female outdoor role model. While making diverse role models more accessible will encourage and recruit people to head outdoors, I’d love to extend this focus to inspire more girls to join the outdoor industry workforce where they can be creative, innovative problem solvers.  

In many ways, the outdoor industry suffers from the very same optics issues that the rest of the STEM professions do. People don't understand what opportunities are available to them and the perceptions about who is welcome can be discouraging. I love that the outdoor industry is focused on changing the narrative to specifically show more diversity in outdoor media. But media isn’t just about entertaining people with magazines and movies. It’s also about the education-based media and video content that we put in front of our students every day. And when people think about the outdoor industry – STEM jobs don’t necessarily pop to mind. Deanne Buck, the Executive Director at Camber and outdoor industry role model herself, told me that the outdoor industry is about engineering and technology all wrapped in fun. I think we need to educate the incoming workforce about these opportunities they can pursue that often tap into their passions and add that fun quotient into the workplace.

This month Couragion added an amazing role model from Icelantic Skis – a company with 100% of their skis, apparel and accessories manufactured in the USA and led by another incredible exemplar CEO Annelise Loevlie. Lauren Kwan (see her pic above) is an inspirational role model in technology who owns everything from the brand identity of their organization straight down to creating the graphic design for the ski's top-sheets which is crucial to the product development lifecycle.

Couragion’s mission is to inspire underrepresented students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. 87 percent of the role models we feature in our app are traditionally underrepresented in STEM. STEM role models in the outdoor industry can range from industrial engineers who are developing gear to environmental scientists working on conservation initiatives to creatives making the next adventure film. Could this be one of your kids?



REI's Force of Nature campaign http://blog.rei.com/news/force-of-nature-lets-level-the-playing-field/

Deanne Buck featured in Outdoor Magazine article about diversity https://www.outsideonline.com/2150426/outdoor-industry-too-white

Media & Diversity in the Outdoor Industry article in Outdoor Magazine https://www.outsideonline.com/2172896/why-we-need-women-outdoor-packaging