Outdoor Retailer - May 2021 - 15
IDEAS / The Weekly Chat
Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem in the outdoor
industry-but we have the will and ability to change that sad fact.
This organization helps prevent harassment and build a better
environment in the workplace. By Doug Schnitzspahn
Courtesy Respect Outdoors
THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRYHAS BEEN FORWARDthinking on so many important fronts, but
sexual harassment is still an ugly truth at too
many brands and organizations. It does not
have to be this way. Gina McClard has spent
30 years working as a champion for the rights
of women and underserved groups as a law
professor, legislative consultant, and legal
counsel in the public, private, and nonprofit
sectors. Jim Miller is a 30-year vetran of the
outdoor industry who has worked as a guide,
run marketing and retail training initiatives,
and owned a multiunit retail specialty store.
Together, they created Respect Outside to
provide a resource for companies looking to
prevent and end sexaul misconduct.
What does Respect Outside do?
We are your culture-change agents. We are
experts in sexual harassment prevention and
outdoor culture. To truly love something, you
must be willing to critique it in order to make it
better. That's why we do what we do.
Just like the work that activists and industry
leaders have done to protect the natural environment-trails and wild rivers-we work to
improve the work culture for all of us who contribute to the outdoor industry.
Respect Outside works to harness the reverence and trust integral to the outdoors and
bring it into the workplace through comprehensive culture change, including harassment-prevention training. Our program isn't
a generic sexual harassment training, but one
specialized to the unique dynamics and work
environments of the outdoor industry. Our
training is designed to mimic scenarios common in the outdoor industry, like retail and
manufacturing environments, traveling for
trade shows, sales meetings, and consumer
events, as well as for those organizations that
work in wild spaces for days on end.
Respect Outside provides sexual harassment-prevention training to all businesses in
the outdoor industry, including manufacturers, retailers, outfitters, nonprofits, government agencies, camps, media, and universities.
Why is sexual-misconduct prevention and
gender equity important to the outdoor
Historically, the early explorers, industry leaders, and most employees in the outdoor industry have been predominantly white and male.
Despite tremendous growth, the industry still
operates from an old-school philosophical
framework: fit in or perish. The demographics
of our industry and clients have changed, but,
unfortunately, the rules of the game have not.
The costs of sexual harassment are high for
the target but also for the company. Legal expenses, employee turnover, increased health
insurance costs, production decreases, and
reputational harm cost companies $2.1 billion
in annual losses.
Everyone who contributes to the outdoor
industry deserves to work in a healthy and
respectful environment. We should give the
same respect to each other that we have for the
natural world around us.
What are some of the circumstances of
working in the outdoor industry that lead
to sexual misconduct?
Research shows that work settings at high risk
of sexual misconduct are remote or isolated;
have a homogeneous staff that breeds its own
culture; places where supervisors are predominantly male; structured around hierarchical
promotion; places that pride themselves on
machismo and individualistic pursuits; places
where there is a sense among employees that
Jim Miller and
complaints will not be taken seriously; and,
especially, work settings where drugs and alcohol are encouraged or ritualized.
What are some actions our industry can
Just like with any workplace initiative, working to prevent sexual harassment must come
from the top down: industry leaders and those
in charge. Respect Outside advocates for a
comprehensive approach that incorporates
fair policies that are clearly communicated,
ongoing training, leadership support of a civil
and respectful culture, and the hiring and promotion of women into senior leadership roles.
Leaders in a psychologically healthy workplace model civility, respect, fairness, and
trust. In an organizational culture where every
employee feels safe, supported and included,
people can be their best, and that's good for
people and profits.
We believe the outdoor industry must step
up and become the leader among all industries in systematically combatting sexual harassment in the workplace. O.R.
-Would you like to learn more? Respect
Outside's Gina McClard and Jim Miller will
join us on The Weekly Chat, May 27 at 9 a.m.
PST for " Building Equity Through Sexual
Misconduct Prevention. " Register here to join
May 2021/ OUTDOOR RETAILER 15
Outdoor Retailer - May 2021
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