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Steps Toward Diversity and Inclusion in Running

This Diverse Running Coalition is giving us all the opportunity to level up our participation in the sport.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

In partnership with HOKA ONE ONE

There's a new virtual running group to check out, and it's not the usual meet-up you might expect. Brought together by a common love for running, this group is going the distance to end the existing systemic racism in the running industry and community. We're talking about the Running Industry Diversity Coalition.

The RIDC is a dedicated coalition of running brands, retailers, and runners representing BIPOC individuals who are collaborating to increase diversity within the running industry.

They're collaboratively approaching this work by challenging the current status while, in their words, "unifying and amplifying the inclusion, access and roles of BIPOC in our industry."

Because the reality is that even today, the running world is largely centered in whiteness. Traditionally the sport of running has been revered for its perceived accessibility -- that anyone can lace up a pair of sneakers and pursue exercise from their front door. We've believed this so intrinsically that we motivate ourselves with widely-known anecdotes that tell us, "the hardest part of running is putting on your shoes."

But that truth doesn't hold up for everyone. The RIDC says, "As a collective industry, we admit that we have not acknowledged the barriers that BIPOC have faced, did not make enough effort to understand those barriers when brought to our attention, and have not been motivated enough to remove them. That ends now."

Lacing up HOKA ONE ONE Mach 4 running shoes

Let's empower this industry with education and a more informed community

The RIDC is hosting regular virtual running meetings that create space for group discussions and provide opportunities to listen to marginalized individuals so we can better understand their experiences. These virtual meet-ups encourage conversation for everyone, as long as every person present is looking toward the same goals, including but never limited to reflection, increasing representation, and creating pathways within the industry for diversity in employment and leadership. (You can check out more on the RIDC's goals here.)

A learning opportunity: Understanding and owning Unconscious Bias

In a virtual runners alliance workshop last month, RIDC co-chair, Alison Desir (she/her), welcomed Jose Gonzalez (he/his) to lead a panel discussion on the topic of Unconscious Bias -- that bias we all have -- those unconscious, subtle, involuntary assumptions we make every day, based on our prior experiences and culture. Gonzalez is an experienced educator in formal and informal education settings with an array of associated interests in the arts, education, conservation, and the environment. Currently, he leads Latino Outdoors and is working on other bridging opportunities with Latino communities and conservation.

Over the course of just an hour, Gonzalez guided us through exercises to help us understand why and how we all hold unconscious bias and how we can step back with intention to bring these to our consciousness. It truly felt like a safe space for self-reflection and vulnerability, and we were able to acknowledge how our biases create, intersect and amplify "isms" (or ideologies). And ultimately, we learned tools to help us practice responding to and mitigating our bias.

We found this to be super helpful, so we're sharing a couple of the tools that Gonzalez helped equip us with here, and encouraging you to sign up for the next virtual workshop to learn more.

We can mitigate our unconscious bias by creating S.P.A.C.E.

In other words, manage bias by creating space between automatic reflexes and responses.

Here's how:

  • Slow down. Be mindful and considerate of your responses to others.
  • Perspective taking. Actively imagine the thoughts and feelings of others.
  • Asking yourself. Active self-questioning to challenge your assumptions.
  • Cultural intelligence. Interpret a person's behavior through their cultural lens instead of your own.
  • Exemplars. Identify counter-stereotypical individuals.
  • Expand your formation of diverse friendships.

Mach 4 running shoes by HOKA ONE ONE

Gonzalez shared this thought with us, that acknowledging bias without action is like telling runners that all they need to run is a pair of running shoes. "You actually have to put them on, you have to go and run, and go further."

Join in on the next coalition conversation!

The Running Industry Diversity Coalition is keeping the education coming, and we're committed to continuing our education in this forum.

You can check out the schedule of virtual events here.

(Do it! We'll be right there with you.)

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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