A how-to guide for your business and community.
BY RACHEL MAESTRI-HAILEY Zoar Outdoor
Author, Rachel Maestri-Hailey is also a tour guide with Zoar Outdoor.
CREATING DIVERSITY IN THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY
The topic of diversity and inclusion filters down to communities and businesses around the globe, and the adventure park industry is no exception. Of course, the conversation around diversity can be a bit touchy and uncomfortable, especially in the tempestuous times of late. Often people don’t know how to discuss an issue that is so sensitive to so many, so they avoid it altogether. We’re no different. Seeking shelter from the discomfort of a potentially confrontational conversation may be more common than meeting the challenge head on. The good news is: Our industry, and our country as is evident by recent events, is hungry for a change. The bad news: We’ll need to get uncomfortable to get there. The better news: There is a road map to navigating the discomfort. Now is a great time to choose a new conversation and create a higher level of awareness in our businesses, communi-
ties, industry, and nation. We as owners, operators, and community members can choose to meet the discomfort head on and create an industry that is inclusive, innovative, and connected.
A ROAD MAP THROUGH DISCOMFORT When it comes to understanding, a few small shifts with a focus on learning can go a long way. A LEARNING CULTURE So how are businesses successfully broaching the topic of diversity, having the conversations, and ultimately creating a more inclusive industry, community, and world? By shifting the context from one of fear and discomfort to one of learning and compassion. By creating a “learning culture,” many businesses— be them aerial trekking, zip line tours, experiential learning programs, or building and installation operations—
are fostering conversations on diversity in a positive and impactful way. What is a learning culture, exactly? It starts with the idea that it is perfectly OK to make mistakes, as they are all from a place of understanding, compassion, and discovery. This provides a context that says, “Even though we might step on some land mines, we’re all about learning and growing as a business, community, and industry.” A learning culture creates a safe space for people to step out and risk while talking about and exploring diversity and inclusion. If you introduce diversity as a “hard topic,” you can definitely add this into your meetings and quickly make the topic more approachable. Creating a learning culture is easier than you might think. In fact, we do this in our business every day. At one point or another, we have all had a guest, participant, or new staff member who is nervous about the activity we are presenting.