What Are We Doing About Diversity?

In our monthly LeaderLines emails, we explore topics to challenge ourselves to be better leaders in the outdoors. Today, we discuss why creating an inclusive community is an important goal for The Mountaineers.
Chris Williams Chris Williams
Leadership Development Manager
July 19, 2016
What Are We Doing About Diversity?

Creating an inviting and diverse membership is an important goal for all of us. It's a challenge because building an inviting, diverse, inclusive environment for learning and adventure will take many steps and The Mountaineers, with a predominantly white membership, could do more to make progress on this journey. 

Why does diversity matter at The Mountaineers?

  • When we have a diverse membership, we become greater than the sum of our parts. Acknowledging and leveraging our similarities and differences can lead to increased creativity and innovation in how we lead our programs.
  • A diverse membership is a true sign that we are becoming a more inclusive community.
  • An inclusive community means not only growing membership numbers but creating long-lasting relationships with each other and the natural world.
  • More members leads to more leaders which means more people getting outside and being advocates for our wild places. 

evidence suggests people of color support environmental issues at a higher level than white counterparts

An exit poll in 2002 for open space protection revealed that 77% of African Americans, 74% of Latinos, 60% of Asians, and 56% of Caucasians approved the measure. Another recent poll showed that 77% of Latino voters (versus 65% of all voters) support a tax increase to protect water quality and open space. See "How Do We Diversify," by Marcelo Bonta. We do NOT want to contribute to the "bro-ification" or elitism that is creeping into the outdoor industry

What can you do as a Mountaineers Leader? 

(ideas taken from an article cited below)
  • Engage young people - Don't make assumptions about old or young people joining your trip. Take advantage of the learning opportunities this presents. 
  • Connect the generations - Volunteer with our youth programs that get people of all backgrounds and economic status outside. 
  • Seek opportunities to broaden your experience, expand your network, and continue learning - Attend diversity workshops and leadership training like the Fostering Leadership Conference.
  • Find allies - Connect with others who also feel passionate about diversity issues in their workplace or at The Mountaineers. Bounce ideas around, keep the conversation going.
  • Engage leadership - talk to your committee chairs and branch leadership about what you are doing to create a more inclusive environment.
  • Start building relationships with communities and organizations that are different from your own.

Marcelo Bonta's article provides an inviting and well thought-out road-map for tackling an issue often uncomfortable for many well-intentioned people. However, we won't remove many obstacles to this shared mission if we don't address it openly.

Here is another collection of articles and studies that provides tremendous insight and resources.

What you do as a Mountaineer MATTERS. Thank you.

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