Camber Outdoors Public Statement: Accountability and Commitment

Camber Outdoors Public Statement:

Accountability and Commitment


An apology from the Camber Outdoors Board of Directors

On Feb. 1, Camber Outdoors announced its CEO Outdoor Equity Pledge at the Outdoor Retailer conference in Denver, Colo. This was an evolution of Camber Outdoors’ original 2015 CEO Pledge, which focused specifically on advancing women in the industry.

With their signatures, CEOs representing more than 60 outdoor-industry companies recommitted to increasing equity, inclusion and diversity in their workplaces. 

It humbles and pains us to now know how deeply our announcement hurt courageous, committed people who are fighting for equity and inclusion, especially people of color and those in the outdoor industry. When we framed and announced the pledge, we failed to respect and acknowledge the myriad brave and groundbreaking efforts in the outdoor industry, including Teresa Baker’s work and Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge.

Camber Outdoors and Ms. Baker have been in communication since 2015. We were aware of and appreciated that Ms. Baker had crafted and launched the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge in July of 2018. This pledge is expansive and considerate of areas outside of the workplace, such as marketing and advertising, athlete partnerships, and business-to-business collaboration.

Our process has been different, and we are solely focused on the workplace. Camber Outdoors’ primary function is to provide data and programming that support diverse entrepreneurship, professional mentoring and the development of inclusive workplaces where diverse talent thrives. The original Camber CEO Pledge of 2015 and the evolved CEO Outdoor Equity Pledge, launched in 2019, were crafted independently of Ms. Baker’s Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge. 

Though our goals are similar, the leadership, programs and tactics that support those common goals differ, making both pledges and approaches valuable. We believe that both are important. Each offers unique perspectives and insight to our partners and the industry as a whole. And we stumbled massively in our responsibility to act on that belief.

Our announcement prompted anger and disappointment from individuals and groups who feel that Camber Outdoors’ approach ignores the voices, experiences and contributions of people of color and communities who have not had a seat at the table. We failed to recognize our contribution to – and part in – the reinforcement of inequitable systems. We were complicit in exclusion. Our subsequent public apology was hurtful and fell short.

We are profoundly sorry. 

Our commitment moving forward is to learn from our mistakes, take initiative to fully engage with people who do not currently see themselves in the work and process, and challenge our personal blind spots, cultural shortcomings and biases. It is essential for voices and perspectives of those who have not been part of the process, or who have felt our invitations to be inauthentic, to be fully engaged in this work. We need to incorporate people of color more effectively into the work of Camber Outdoors.

As a starting point, Camber Outdoors board members are connecting with Ms. Baker to open a direct conversation that we hope will improve our collaboration. Additionally, Camber Outdoors will engage external professional diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) experts to assess our leadership and equity efforts and advise us on how to make our work more authentic, inclusive and impactful. We expect this engagement will drive an action plan that could take many forms and that includes the perspectives of diverse communities. We are working quickly, and we want to be thoughtful about the steps we take. We will keep everyone updated as we make progress.

We will continue with our immediate commitment to diversify our own staff and Board of Directors and move forward with our stated commitment to the diversification of our mentoring and Pitchfest programs. 

The CEO Outdoor Equity Pledge is a valuable expression of commitment to addressing an important issue at an industry level. Camber Outdoors remains committed to our partners and impacted communities, to advancing equity in the workplace, and to supporting the many important efforts being made toward similar goals. 

While we know that we have much work ahead of us, we are committed to working hard to earn and restore trust among those whom our actions and words have hurt. We will not get it right all of the time. Nevertheless, we will strive to equip ourselves with the skills and tools to partner more effectively with others on this journey. 

We welcome your comments. Please contact us directly at board@camberoutdoors.org.

Respectfully,

The Camber Outdoors Board of Directors

Formerly the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC)

©2018 CAMBER OUTDOORS

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