In this XOTV episode, adventure sports industry experts and leaders from Immersion Research, Liquidlogic, and Kokatat speak out on subjects from Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), the underrepresentation of people of color in adventure sports, and what this means for the industry’s survival.
And how the community is removing the obstacles to entering the sport, participating recreationally, and competing in whitewater paddlesports for broader inclusion.
“I think it’s also very understandable for people in our positions in the outdoor industry — those folks who work for other brands do feel a little bit stuck and they will acknowledge the problem — the lack of diversity but not be too sure how to go about making progress to solve that issue to increase diversity. But the important thing is that we’re having this discussion. To my knowledge, it’s the first time that we’re having this discussion on an industry-wide basis.Max Blackburn
Adventure sports industry leaders speak out
“It’s going to be really important for us to find [BIPOC] leaders within segments of the community so other people can see that and see ‘that’s something that could include me.’ And we’re going to be very focused on programs that will help build that.”Jeff Turner
The discussion on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) includes a panel of industry and cultural leaders and advertising and diversity experts represented by:
Liquidlogic Kayaks, LLC — Shane Benedict — Co-founder of Liquidlogic Kayaks LLC, a manufacturer of performance kayaks and apparel with worldwide distribution and headquartered in North Carolina, USA.
Disclosure: The article’s author received sponsorship on behalf of a non-profit organization — Diversify Whitewater, co-founded by the author.
Kokatat, Inc. — Jeff Turner — Director of Sales for Kokatat, Inc., A paddlesports gear and apparel manufacturer in Calif., USA.
Disclosure: The article’s author is a brand ambassador for Kokatat.
Immersion Research, Inc. — Max Blackburn — Sales Manager for Immersion Research, Inc., a designer, and manufacturer of paddling gear Penn., USA.
Adventure sports experts speak out on DEI in outdoor recreation
James Edward Mills — A freelance journalist and contributing writer for outdoor-focused print and online publications such as “National Geographic Adventure,” “Rock and Ice magazine,” “Alpinist magazine,” “Standup Paddle Magazine,” “Elevation Outdoors magazine,” and others.
Mills is a 2016 recipient of the “Paul K. Petzoldt Award For Environmental Education.” Mills is the author of the new book “The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors” and the co-writer/co-producer of the documentary film “An American Ascent.” In 2020 The Adventure Gap was named by Outside Magazine as one of the 10 “Outdoor Books that Shaped the Last Decade.”
DEI advice from the advertising perspective
Rukmini Halliwell — Sr. Advertising Project Manager at one of Canada’s largest advertising agencies. Halliwell’s experience draws from several advertising, marketing, and communications agencies with a long list of high-profile national and international clients in the dining, entertainment, corporate, and non-profit sectors.
Disclosure: Rukmini Halliwell appeared in a panel discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion with the article’s author.
Beginning your DEI strategy
eROOT Consulting, LLC — Patrice M. Palmer, MASJ, FRSA — Director, Social and Cultural Inclusion for the College of Business at Colorado State University. This position is jointly held with New Belgium Brewing Company as their DEI Specialist. Patrice was recognized in 2020 by Hop Culture Magazine as one of the Most Important Voices in Craft Beer for their contribution to diversity, equity, and inclusion within the craft beer industry. Palmer is also the CEO and Principal Consultant at eROOT Consulting, LLC. This internationally recognized consulting firm works with small and midsize businesses to craft, implement, and maintain inclusive DEI strategies.
DEI consultant Patrice M. Palmer offered guidance on how organizations can go from desire to action.
“Getting to have that opportunity to get to know the folks that you are serving. And that service is an accessibility point to the outdoors. The outdoors is about freedom, and marginalized groups have been denied freedom in so many different ways. This is an accessing point to bring us [BIPOC] back to our center, which is the outdoors.”Patrice M. Palmer
Vulnerability from the extreme sports industry
Familiarity is not why our panelists are participating in this article. However, they are the courageous few willing to discuss one of the most important topics of 2020-21 — Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI).
“I do feel like a rookie, and I’m just trying to take it all in, just trying to learn. We do need to grow into other communities. And diversifying is just the right thing to do. I’m excited; it’s invigorated me to start doing the reach out and doing the learning. I’ve been able to reach out and meet new people.”Shane Benedict
Watching an industry leader like Shane Benedict making connections with BIPOC boaters and leaders promoting diversity in paddlesports has been an exciting demonstration of how welcoming and supportive the whitewater community is to formerly marginalized groups like the LGBTQA+ community, women, and BIPOC, for example.
Advice from the experts on diversifying adventure sports
Author James Edward Mills explains the importance of using mirror marketing versus window marketing — a phrase taken from a practice in children’s book writing that was developed by this writer.
” One of the things that we were aspiring to in our film “An American Ascent” is to be able to have an authentic reflection of black people climbing. So when someone says I’m going climbing, a person can’t say that’s not what black people do because we’re showing black people doing it.Author — James Edward Mills
Authentic advertising in the age of social justice
“Over the past few years diversity and inclusion have become a huge priority for a lot of brands. The need for that is that representation matters. Canada relies so heavily on immigration, and a lot of our newcomers come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, many of whom are quite wealthy and have a lot of purchasing power. [Overlooking] that advertising opportunity with the BIPOC community is not only tone-deaf, it’s also fiscally a bit foolish.”Rukmini Halliwell
Exclusively on the XOTV platform, this diversity, equity, and inclusion panel discussion with our group of industry leaders and experts is a deep-dive and a 360-degree look at the challenge of diversifying any market, organization, or agency. And it offers practical steps to get you started on promoting greater inclusion today.
You can join the monthly DEI discussion on the last Thursday of each month. Stay connected here.
The Paddlesports’ DEI panel in context
You can read more about the challenge of diversifying adventure sports in our five-part series in Culturs Magazine.