Lees-McRae College is taking steps to contribute to a more inclusive future in the outdoor industry.
Its Outdoor Recreation Management (ORM) program is the first academic outdoor program in the country to sign The Outdoor Industry CEO Diversity Pledge. The pledge connects leading outdoor brands with inclusion advocates to advance representation for people of color and other marginalized identities across the industry.
“Bringing the outdoor industry together to build a more inclusive future is crucial,” said Outdoor Recreational Management Program Coordinator Katie Wall.
For the ORM program at Lees-McRae the commitment looks like this:
- Explore diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) education in our classes
- Build educational spaces that enable challenging conversations about DEI
- Seek out intentional faculty, guest speakers, textbooks, and programs that highlight and support underrepresented populations
- Consult regularly with the Lees-McRae College Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Compliance, who will soon be appointed
“We are training students to become leaders in the outdoor industry and they will hold influence over the future of the outdoors,” said Wall. “We have a valuable opportunity to take on racial, ethnic, and other divides by promoting DEI within our outdoor communities.”
The pledge was created by Diversify Outdoors. Diversify Outdoors is a coalition of social media influencers—bloggers, athletes, activists, and entrepreneurs—who share the goal of promoting diversity in outdoor spaces where people of color, LGBTQIA, and other diverse identities have historically been underrepresented.
Diversify Outdoors believes: “We’re inspired to use our shared voice for change. It’s time for the outdoor industry to make a bold step towards diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s time to elevate people of color and other marginalized identities.”
Since signing the pledge, Lees-McRae has been joined by outdoor programs and groups at Duke University, University of Virginia, Brandeis University, Tufts University, and Western Colorado University.
Explore the resources available from Diversify Outdoors to learn more.