Outdoor Diversity Alliance Invites Industry to Collectively Advance Equity
October 17, 2023
New organization invites every outdoor brand and nonprofit to help launch an industry-wide collaboration to support historically excluded and marginalized communities
Richmond, Calif. – Oct. 17, 2023 /OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – Today, outdoor industry leaders announced the formation of the Outdoor Diversity Alliance (ODA) and invited every outdoor brand and nonprofit to be part of its launch. ODA is designed to assist the outdoor industry in addressing systemic issues impacting diversity, equity, and inclusion through collective action. ODA plans to serve as a central group driving and supporting industry-wide collaboration between businesses and historically underrepresented communities in the outdoors by helping brands move from self-driven, isolated diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) work, towards shared, collective action to support BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, and other members of historically excluded communities.
The idea and effort to launch the Alliance has been led by a group of industry professionals, including Teresa Baker, founder of the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge and In Solidarity, Josie Norris, an industry veteran who was previously with the Conservation Alliance, as well as thought leaders from seven outdoor brands and organizations:
Arc’teryx Equipment Dan Walker
Burton Ashley Laporte
Cotopaxi Damien Huang
Moosejaw Eoin Comerford
Outdoor Industry Association Kent Ebersole
Protect Our Winters Torrey Udall
Smartwool Alicia Chin
The ODA founding board hired 18 community advisors representing outdoor affinity groups and historically marginalized communities to consult and advise on what they feel ODA should do to support their community members. ODA developed its goals and activities based on the feedback and recommendations from the community advisors. The group believes it will be critical to center the needs of historically underrepresented communities in the outdoors as they shape the work in the first year. “We believe it is important to center our work around those who have been historically underrepresented in the outdoors, and we must build mechanisms for hearing from and listening to these communities,” said Ashley Laporte, VP of Purpose and Impact at Burton.
“Now is the time to create real lasting change, so more people, including BIPOC and underrepresented communities are welcome, comfortable and safe in outdoor spaces,” said Lestarya Molloy, ODA Community Advisor and founder of Fridie Outdoors. “Collectively, the Outdoor Diversity Alliance can make it possible for every person to have the opportunity and enjoy their right to explore outside. “ said Molloy.
Through listening to brands and community advisors, the founding board members learned there is a clear need and an unmet demand for collaborative work around DEI in the outdoor industry. Many industry leaders and companies need help setting a clear path forward to advance equity. Others have gained ground in DEI work, but they want to do more across their organization. Brands want to consult with other brands and ask relevant questions like: What are you doing to advance DEI? What has worked for you? What hasn’t? What mistakes have you made? How did you correct them?
“The Outdoor Diversity Alliance is a group of outdoor industry businesses and organizations working together to advance equity in the outdoor industry. We want to help brands learn from each other and grow together. We believe the result will have a greater impact than what any one company can attempt and accomplish on its own,” said Teresa Baker, founder of the In Solidarity Project.
“We want the ODA to be a resource for all outdoor industry brands to connect and collaborate alongside community leaders,” said Damien Huang, CEO at Cotopaxi. “We know these issues can often be thorny and difficult to engage with independently, so by coordinating as a group we can move more confidently towards an accessible, thriving industry well-positioned to meet the opportunities in front of us. The long-term health of the outdoor industry requires an expansive and inclusive effort to welcome all communities to the outdoors. “
While focusing on the needs of marginalized community members, the Alliance will help members proactively advance equity and inclusion with peer-to-peer sharing on topics like representation in marketing, building authentic community partnerships, selecting vendors from marginalized groups, adopting inclusive language in internal and external communications, and more. The founding board believes that every department can use this peer support – from marketing executives to HR managers to product team members to social media coordinators and beyond. Baker said, “They all can share what is working and what is not working in advancing equity.”
Eoin Comerford, CEO of Moosejaw, said, “We are asking companies to make a two-year commitment to the Alliance. If we meet this critical buy-in at launch, we will focus on three key goals based on information gathered from our community advisors.”
Those goals are:
- Support the development of authentic relationships by helping brands and historically underrepresented groups connect. Through these relationships, brands can share what they have been doing and ask questions without judgment.
- Create the framework for an industry-wide equity assessment. Standardized metrics help brands know what to track and unites them around shared goals. Plus, this data will serve as a tool for accountability.
- Create authentic storytelling models led by members of underrepresented communities. ODA will work with community advisors to build an industry guide for authentic storytelling, ambassador relationships, partnerships, and marketing campaigns.
In 2024, ODA also would host an in-person gathering of CEOs and other leaders from its member companies to begin the collaborative work. Members will work together to develop programming. They plan to utilize the resource hub and job board through the In Solidarity site. Collecting demographics from all members will be part of members’ commitment to ODA.
The founding board members are inviting brands and nonprofits to sign on as new members and commit to paying membership dues in early 2024. The dues range from $1,000 to $10,000 and are determined by the revenue of the brand. Membership dues will pay for staff time to run ODA, events, and operations. The goal is to secure a minimum of $150,000 in new member commitments by the end of 2023. The organization is partnering with the Social Good Fund, its fiscal sponsor. Businesses can click here to apply.
The industry is known for its efforts to collaborate on other pressing issues: advancing efforts to address climate change; improving supply-chain sustainability; and advocating for conservation. ODA is modeled after other successful ways the industry has bound together to show strength in numbers and address complex problems.
About Outdoor Diversity Alliance
Launched in October 2023, the Outdoor Diversity Alliance (ODA) is a growing group of outdoor brands that are committed to collectively advancing equity in the industry. Its mission is to assist the outdoor industry in addressing systemic issues impacting diversity, equity, and inclusion through collective action. ODA serves as a central group driving and supporting industry-wide collaboration between businesses and historically underrepresented communities. For more information, visit www.insolidarityproject.com/oda.