February 11, 2021

An ELI & WELL Public Webinar

Outdoor recreation is often regarded as emphasizing sustainability through environmentally-conscious branding, promoting healthy activities, and reinforcing an appreciation for the natural world. Yet the outdoor recreation sector has far too often failed to be representative of a variety of communities, especially non-white participants. Data from the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service demonstrate a severe disparity in levels of access to national parks and public lands comparing white and non-white participants.

Recognizing this widespread and longstanding issue, several major outdoor recreation companies have committed to increasing access to the outdoors for non-white participants. For many corporations this began internally in 2018 with initiatives to significantly diversify their predominantly white workforces, and has largely focused on building diversity into their hiring practices. Then the disturbing killings of African American citizens during the spring of 2020 proved to be a watershed moment for racial reckoning in the United States at large, and so too for the outdoors industry. There is an increased sense of urgency to employ broader diversity initiatives, and to foster diversity in outdoor spaces and public lands by restructuring marketing approaches, business models, and emphasizing access to outdoor spaces and national lands for non-white participants.

How can the outdoors industry be a driver to foster increased and more meaningful diversity and inclusivity? What are the main barriers remaining for non-white participants to access national parks and public lands? What do activist groups and outdoors industry leaders see as the most significant opportunities and challenges to promoting diversity and inclusion in the outdoors? Join ELI and expert panelists to explore opportunities for improving diversity and inclusion in the outdoors and access to national parks, public lands, and outdoor recreation.

Panelists:
Ryland Li, Attorney-Adviser, Environmental Protection Agency, Moderator
Lise Aangeenbrug, Executive Director, Outdoor Industry Association (OIA)
Laura Edmondson, Corporate Responsibility Manager, Brown Girls Climb