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Diversification Wars


Original Post
The Naked Edge · · Unknown Hometown · Joined 15 days ago · Points: 0
(Please make an effort to keep the conversation focused on ideas and concepts, rather than personalities and personal attacks. I'm not from either group, and had never heard of either of these groups until last week)

Has anyone else followed the ongoing conflict among climbing and outdoor companies regarding 2 nonprofit groups who have promoted similar goals and similar corporate pledges toward various forms of diversity? It seems like a microcosm of broader social-justice fights where the political left forms a circular firing squad largely over the narcissism of small differences. (that betrays my bias, yet I'm eager to be convinced otherwise) Particularly it seems to a have pitted those of a traditional liberal mindset (civil rights, 2nd wave feminism, people in the 30s/40s/50s) against an emerging far-left social justice (Diversity/Equity) group mostly but not entirely made up of people in their 20s collaborating online. To anyone familiar with Haidt's The Coddling of the American Mind or Lilla's "The Once and Future Liberal", this conflict within 2 factions of progressivism will be immediately recognizable.

Basic Timeline:


  • In 1996 the Outdoor Industry Womens Coalition was formed to encourage women getting jobs (and as participants) in the outdoor industry.

  • At a trade show in the summer 2015 OIWC got more than 30 companies to sign a pledge with various supports for more women hired in the outdoors industry. It eventually got more than 75 signatories and a $1.5million grant from REI. In 2016 the Womens Coalition renamed itself "Camber Outdoors", as a sign of wanting non-female-only involvement with a broadening mission and a less awkward name/acronym. Among other projects, they were funding "Pitchfest" for new women entrepreneurs to propose business ideas at trade shows.

  • In 2013 a Black woman named Teresa Baker began the African American Nature & Parks Experience. It has/had no website, but a 2014 interview with the founder made clear that the main goal of the organization was to encourage African Americans to participate in outdoor recreation. Her interviews make no reference to employment or to any dimension of diversity beyond African American identification in recreation. Perhaps changing from her original mission, Teresa Baker has recently stated that her goals are now primarily about demographic user advocacy as a mean of environmental preservation and public land access :
“The reason I do this is for the environment,” Baker said in an interview. “A lot of people overlook that we are fighting for these outdoor spaces. There are so many attacks on our public lands that we need more faces involved in fighting off these threats. The more faces the better chance we have of countering some of these very public fights that are taking place.”

  • In January 2018 Teresa Baker (of African American Nature & Parks), Danielle Williams of Melanin Basecamp, Shelma Jun of Flash Foxy, and several other younger activists (self-described as a "coalition of social media influencers") founded the "DiversifyOutdoors" website, promoting racial diversity, specifically of outdoor participants, largely via their existing social media accounts. In the summer 2018 tradeshow Teresa Baker presented a pledge to brands on behalf of this group with racially-focused goals including companies hiring athlete/ambassadors based in part on racial makeup, and companies agreeing to external audits or reviews of their diversity/equity practices by a Diversify Outdoors steering committee made up of young social media influencers from their website. 23 Companies signed on during the 6 months since the introduction. It's not clear how exactly members of this committee would inspect, punish, or reward signatories.

  • Meanwhile at the summer 2018 trade show, Camber Outdoors announced a mission change to address not just gender issues, but a broader scope of intersectional identity variables. Their slogan changed from "Equality for all women" to "Equity in the Outdoors" and it launched a Workplace Equity Working Group to determine how to tackle the broader goals.

  • In February 2019, 6 months after their change in scope and mission statement, and 6 months after Teresa/Diversify's 23-signatory pledge, Camber Outdoors' "Workplace Equity Working Group" released their own new not-just-gender pledge (not publicly posted), and over the span of a few days they received just over 50 corporate signatories, explaining: "[Camber's Equity Group] is the platform for the exchange of best practices identified in Teresa's pledge and the evolution of the Camber Outdoors CEO Pledge to align with the mission.” Camber released a standard self-congratulatory PR statement, gave themselves a trophy and didn't publicly thank or credit Teresa/DiversifyOutdoors. They called their pledge a "First of its kind" which is obviously marketing spin since it was actually adapted from their own original gender pledge and from DiversifyOutdoors' summer-launched pledge, and since Camber's CEO Deanne Buck spoke of those parallels in an interview. Deanne Buck and Camber Outdoors have now released public apologies on their website and instagram for claiming to be a "first" and for overlooking or under-crediting DiversifyOutdoors.
The result of both their pledge and apology was a huge amount of online criticism and calls for Camber's female CEO to be fired or resign by some prominent voices within climbing (here, here, here, here...) Most criticism was focused on 3 main points:
  • Their PR spin about the pledge being "1st of its kind" ignored the pledge released 6 months earlier by a separate group.
  • The idea that Camber was morally at fault for coopting or "stealing" the idea of a racial diversity or corporate responsibility pledge from the group who had introduced one 6 months prior and which consisted of more nonwhite people than work at Camber.
  • A more abstract/universal criticism that no group which doesn't consist of a certain threshold percentage of nonwhite persons can be qualified or have legitimacy in promoting a racial diversity agenda period. Or at a slightly less extreme version where one can't be legitimate at the forefront of such a movement if such an agenda is already being promoted by a minority-majority group. (For the record, it appears as though Camber is predominately though not entirely white women.)
Questions I Come Back To:
  • If both groups began with more specific missions (Teresa Baker only on African American participants, Camber only on women being hired) why is it important to determine now the sole "legitimate nonprofit advocate" for the now overlapping goals? Why not allow either of both groups to work for their very similar agendas?
  • If a goal is laudable and desirable, should significant quantifiable steps toward that goal be devalued if they are catalyzed by a group that didn't first articulate the goal? Were LBJ, RFK, or white politicians allowed to co-opt MLK's message?
  • Does the "originator" of a social movement hold a certain kind of license or monopoly on being the public face of that movement? Is it possible to own or claim domain over a policy position? Does race of the nonprofit groups matter, if both groups goals have now coalesced around focusing on racial dimensions?
  • In this case, does it matter that Camber Outdoors was quantifiably more successful than Teresa Baker/DiversifyOutdoors in gathering pledges? (their racial pledge received more than twice as many signatories in 4 days than Diversify's had in 6 months).
  • Might it be that Camber was simply better at advocacy work than Ms. Baker or her DiversifyOutdoor coalition? (Their website lists 0 upcoming events and Diversify's instagram has 0 posts, Camber has been holding in person events and rewarding cash for years)
  • Might companies have chosen not to sign on to Diversify's Pledge out of skepticism around being reviewed by an appointed panel of unaccountable young social media activists, or out of not wanting to hire athlete teams based upon race opposed to athletic accomplishments? If one of the 2 pledges requires more extreme concessions, it simply may never appeal to as many companies regardless of the presenter.
  • If a critic argues the 3rd major point of above, which is that groups are inherently illegitimate in trying to lead movements for, represent, or advocate for races to which they do not primarily belong, how do the most marginalized and least allied groups in society gain social or political capital on their own without advocates and empathizers? If women can't vote, then male suffragettes maybe ought to be the political vanguard to grant women the right to vote. If Japanese Americans are denied civil rights and basic constitutional protections, then it might take a republican senator to sponsor legislation and a far-right president to push through a public apology and monetary compensation for past injustice. In fact, isn't it precisely those with the least power who most benefit from having their goals adopted or coopted by larger coalitions with more political/social capital? Is it not a good thing that the black abolitionists had their goals coopted by Stowe to sell books, or by Lincoln and the fledgling Republican Party to win elections?
  • Both groups (and their past iterations and former pledges) consistently used vague terms like "diversity" or "perspective" often without defining which of the infinite possible dimensions of diversity they were focused on. Isn't this sub-optimal language (at best) in that it invites confusion and the potential for misunderstanding or overlap? If the goal is to promote the involvement of a specific gender or racial population in something, why not be more clear? If the goal is more racial minorities or more women climbing, but one merely speaks of diversity, more perspectives, or differing viewpoints, isn't than an equivocation or conflation where one's ideas and thoughts are held as being contingent upon one's chromosomes or skin color?
Joe Prescott · · Berlin Germany · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 6

Um... no. 

Ryan Pfleger · · North Lake Tahoe, CA · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 15

So, in the interests of transparency... which group are you from? My guess is Camber?

mpech · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 2

if you step way back, it seems like this is simply the story of multiple non-profits competing for limited resources. 

The Naked Edge · · Unknown Hometown · Joined 15 days ago · Points: 0
Ryan Pfleger wrote: So, in the interests of transparency... which group are you from? My guess is Camber?

I'm part of neither group and I had never heard of either one before a week ago. I've followed these broader sorts of "culture war" or "social justice advocates prominent in climbing" phenomena at a distance but for some reason this one caught my attention.

If the timeline or representation of either group is incorrect, please let me know how so and I'll edit it. I tried to present a factual timeline with links, quotes, and free of distortion.
Competent Leader · · Western US · Joined Jan 2019 · Points: 0

I'll be honest:

I can't tell if this OP makes me glaze over more, or the glut of social media posts about it.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 507

This ought  to be an entertaining thread to follow, and maybe even educational (although probably knot). Seems to me like an example of the "toxicity" of social media, to put in social justice warriors' terms.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,460

Some people have too much time in their hands. I'm going to ignore the issues here and troll this thread like it's my own.

Bambuda Jambuda · · The state of perpetual enli… · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

"Social justice" requires that the party treating another party unjustly must be beaten "in public" by party(ies) other than the offended party that are willing to, and enjoy, the beating of others who "have it coming."

Regardless of who the party needing the beating is......

See also, "mob rule"

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

TLDR, nobody cares about this. ughhh, so much whining...

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294
Tradiban wrote: Some people have too much time in their hands.
Pot, meet Tradiban.
Bambuda Jambuda · · The state of perpetual enli… · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0
Tradiban wrote: Some people have too much time in their hands. I'm going to ignore the issues here and troll this thread like it's my own.

It is not, but one can still dream.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,460
The Naked Edge wrote: (Please make an effort to keep the conversation focused on ideas and concepts, rather than personalities and personal attacks. I'm not from either group, and had never heard of either of these groups until last week)

Has anyone else followed the ongoing conflict among climbing and outdoor companies regarding 2 nonprofit groups who have promoted similar goals and similar corporate pledges toward various forms of diversity? It seems like a microcosm of broader social-justice fights where the political left forms a circular firing squad largely over the narcissism of small differences. (that betrays my bias, yet I'm eager to be convinced otherwise) Particularly it seems to a have pitted those of a traditional liberal mindset (civil rights, 2nd wave feminism, people in the 30s/40s/50s) against an emerging far-left social justice (Diversity/Equity) group mostly but not entirely made up of people in their 20s collaborating online. To anyone familiar with Haidt's The Coddling of the American Mind or Lilla's "The Once and Future Liberal", this conflict within 2 factions of progressivism will be immediately recognizable.

Basic Timeline:


  • In 1996 the Outdoor Industry Womens Coalition was formed to encourage women getting jobs (and as participants) in the outdoor industry.

  • At a trade show in the summer 2015 OIWC got more than 30 companies to sign a pledge with various supports for more women hired in the outdoors industry. It eventually got more than 75 signatories and a $1.5million grant from REI. In 2016 the Womens Coalition renamed itself "Camber Outdoors", as a sign of wanting non-female-only involvement with a broadening mission and a less awkward name/acronym. Among other projects, they were funding "Pitchfest" for new women entrepreneurs to propose business ideas at trade shows.

  • In 2013 a Black woman named Teresa Baker began the African American Nature & Parks Experience. It has/had no website, but a 2014 interview with the founder made clear that the main goal of the organization was to encourage African Americans to participate in outdoor recreation. Her interviews make no reference to employment or to any dimension of diversity beyond African American identification in recreation. Perhaps changing from her original mission, Teresa Baker has recently stated that her goals are now primarily about demographic user advocacy as a mean of environmental preservation and public land access :
“The reason I do this is for the environment,” Baker said in an interview. “A lot of people overlook that we are fighting for these outdoor spaces. There are so many attacks on our public lands that we need more faces involved in fighting off these threats. The more faces the better chance we have of countering some of these very public fights that are taking place.”

  • In January 2018 Teresa Baker (of African American Nature & Parks), Danielle Williams of Melanin Basecamp, Shelma Jun of Flash Foxy, and several other younger activists (self-described as a "coalition of social media influencers") founded the "DiversifyOutdoors" website, promoting racial diversity, specifically of outdoor participants, largely via their existing social media accounts. In the summer 2018 tradeshow Teresa Baker presented a pledge to brands on behalf of this group with racially-focused goals including companies hiring athlete/ambassadors based in part on racial makeup, and companies agreeing to external audits or reviews of their diversity/equity practices by a Diversify Outdoors steering committee made up of young social media influencers from their website. 23 Companies signed on during the 6 months since the introduction. It's not clear how exactly members of this committee would inspect, punish, or reward signatories.

  • Meanwhile at the summer 2018 trade show, Camber Outdoors announced a mission change to address not just gender issues, but a broader scope of intersectional identity variables. Their slogan changed from "Equality for all women" to "Equity in the Outdoors" and it launched a Workplace Equity Working Group to determine how to tackle the broader goals.

  • In February 2019, 6 months after their change in scope and mission statement, and 6 months after Teresa/Diversify's 23-signatory pledge, Camber Outdoors' "Workplace Equity Working Group" released their own new not-just-gender pledge (not publicly posted), and over the span of a few days they received just over 50 corporate signatories, explaining: "[Camber's Equity Group] is the platform for the exchange of best practices identified in Teresa's pledge and the evolution of the Camber Outdoors CEO Pledge to align with the mission.” Camber released a standard self-congratulatory PR statement, gave themselves a trophy and didn't publicly thank or credit Teresa/DiversifyOutdoors. They called their pledge a "First of its kind" which is obviously marketing spin since it was actually adapted from their own original gender pledge and from DiversifyOutdoors' summer-launched pledge, and since Camber's CEO Deanne Buck spoke of those parallels in an interview. Deanne Buck and Camber Outdoors have now released public apologies on their website and instagram for claiming to be a "first" and for overlooking or under-crediting DiversifyOutdoors.
The result of both their pledge and apology was a huge amount of online criticism and calls for Camber's female CEO to be fired or resign by some prominent voices within climbing (here, here, here, here...) Most criticism was focused on 3 main points:
  • Their PR spin about the pledge being "1st of its kind" ignored the pledge released 6 months earlier by a separate group.
  • The idea that Camber was morally at fault for coopting or "stealing" the idea of a racial diversity or corporate responsibility pledge from the group who had introduced one 6 months prior and which consisted of more nonwhite people than work at Camber.
  • A more abstract/universal criticism that no group which doesn't consist of a certain threshold percentage of nonwhite persons can be qualified or have legitimacy in promoting a racial diversity agenda period. Or at a slightly less extreme version where one can't be legitimate at the forefront of such a movement if such an agenda is already being promoted by a minority-majority group. (For the record, it appears as though Camber is predominately though not entirely white women.)
Questions I Come Back To:
  • If both groups began with more specific missions (Teresa Baker only on African American participants, Camber only on women being hired) why is it important to determine now the sole "legitimate nonprofit advocate" for the now overlapping goals? Why not allow either of both groups to work for their very similar agendas?
  • If a goal is laudable and desirable, should significant quantifiable steps toward that goal be devalued if they are catalyzed by a group that didn't first articulate the goal? Were LBJ, RFK, or white politicians allowed to co-opt MLK's message?
  • Does the "originator" of a social movement hold a certain kind of license or monopoly on being the public face of that movement? Is it possible to own or claim domain over a policy position? Does race of the nonprofit groups matter, if both groups goals have now coalesced around focusing on racial dimensions?
  • In this case, does it matter that Camber Outdoors was quantifiably more successful than Teresa Baker/DiversifyOutdoors in gathering pledges? (their racial pledge received more than twice as many signatories in 4 days than Diversify's had in 6 months).
  • Might it be that Camber was simply better at advocacy work than Ms. Baker or her DiversifyOutdoor coalition? (Their website lists 0 upcoming events and Diversify's instagram has 0 posts, Camber has been holding in person events and rewarding cash for years)
  • Might companies have chosen not to sign on to Diversify's Pledge out of skepticism around being reviewed by an appointed panel of unaccountable young social media activists, or out of not wanting to hire athlete teams based upon race opposed to athletic accomplishments? If one of the 2 pledges requires more extreme concessions, it simply may never appeal to as many companies regardless of the presenter.
  • If a critic argues the 3rd major point of above, which is that groups are inherently illegitimate in trying to lead movements for, represent, or advocate for races to which they do not primarily belong, how do the most marginalized and least allied groups in society gain social or political capital on their own without advocates and empathizers? If women can't vote, then male suffragettes maybe ought to be the political vanguard to grant women the right to vote. If Japanese Americans are denied civil rights and basic constitutional protections, then it might take a republican senator to sponsor legislation and a far-right president to push through a public apology and monetary compensation for past injustice. In fact, isn't it precisely those with the least power who most benefit from having their goals adopted or coopted by larger coalitions with more political/social capital? Is it not a good thing that the black abolitionists had their goals coopted by Stowe to sell books, or by Lincoln and the fledgling Republican Party to win elections?
  • Both groups (and their past iterations and former pledges) consistently used vague terms like "diversity" or "perspective" often without defining which of the infinite possible dimensions of diversity they were focused on. Isn't this sub-optimal language (at best) in that it invites confusion and the potential for misunderstanding or overlap? If the goal is to promote the involvement of a specific gender or racial population in something, why not be more clear? If the goal is more racial minorities or more women climbing, but one merely speaks of diversity, more perspectives, or differing viewpoints, isn't than an equivocation or conflation where one's ideas and thoughts are held as being contingent upon one's chromosomes or skin color?

What's your point?

Drew L · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2018 · Points: 0
Tradiban wrote: Some people have too much time in their hands. I'm going to ignore the issues here and troll this thread like it's my own.

Don't you do this already?

John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 582

Two things come to mind:

1) All human social organizations have a life cycle much like their biological counterparts.  Eg. Birth, childhood, maturity, dotage, death.  Darwin would say the strongest will survive.

2) The Dali Lama says (I paraphrase): If you can fix it, fix it.  If you can't fix it, don't worry about it because that'll just make you unhappy and it still won't be fixed.

Sean Post · · Laguna Beach, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 24

Wow, this is some of the highest-quality bait I've ever come across. Kudos.

I think that it is quite easy to see, judging by the sources you cite above, that you're a well-educated, left of center guy (probably) who does not like and is grappling with how to deal with the more identity-fueled forms of discourse of the contemporary American left. Good on you for taking some time to actually think about it. It is abundantly clear, however, that your post (and, honestly, its source material) is only superficially about climbing. The analysis on this specific situation is somewhat easy--some marketing employee who put "first of its kind" in a press release didn't quite do the minimum amount of research and got burned. If, as a thought exercise, you reframe this to be about, say, a commitment about protecting cryptobiotic soil crusts in Arches National Park, then you'd be upset too if you had just spent months of your time asking people to sign onto your pledge and then later another group comes out with a pledge saying more or less the same thing. Not really a big deal at all, as long as you apologize. As for the issue you raise about "coopting or 'stealing' the idea of a racial diversity or corporate responsibility pledge," I fail to see the consequence of this. Ideas to promote diversity are not patents. Nobody gets to claim specific methods, and certainly having the thought that the people who Enjoy The Outdoors tend to be awfully white and male and that more types of people ought to be exposed to the outdoors is not even remotely original.

Like I said above, you just seem to be a pretty well-educated liberal searching for answers on this. I'm of the firm belief that this debate you believe to be happening between "two strands of progressivism" (leaving aside that progressivism is certainly not the most precise word to use here) can be reframed as a relatively simple idealism vs pragmatism debate. I'm going to go out on a limb and say you definitely know what those are, so I don't think it's worth recounting them here. If you're looking for academic or theoretical work that underpins the more idealist side of this discussion, I encourage you to read up on Foucault and, if you can stomach viewpoints that are (probably) very much not aligned with yours, bell hooks.

My biggest point here, though, is not about the substance of your argument. It's that a rock climbing forum, and certainly not the part of the rock climbing forum devoted specifically to rock climbing, is not the venue for this discussion. If you are actually interested in hearing from people about this in a constructive way, then I would encourage you to just email the parties involved in this dispute to gather more information. Judging by the preponderance of rhetorical questions in your original post, though, you seem more interested in fostering what will inevitably become a vitriolic internet discussion for...some reason. I can't say I know what that is.
 

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,450

Thanks to the OP for that synopsis.  I saw some of the social media posts referenced this morning and was wondering what it was all about.

I do struggle at times with, let's call them "inclusion groups" for going after other "inclusion groups" for not being inclusive enough. Like, it looks like you want the same things.  I mean, if the African American woman had not come to Camber and pitched the idea, and if Camber had done it on its own, would there even be an issue? I don't think so. So this is about cooption more than anything else.

It's tempting to say, who cares? But at the same time, marginalized communities have had a lot coopted from them.  So their anger is understandable.  There were available ways for camber to handle the issue, without outright stealing the idea.  And Camber got called out on it.

Now, what is the value of a social media call out?  It depends.  It's enough to get a pro climber like Joe Kinder cut. Enough for Camber's leader to step down?  Personally, I kind of doubt it.  Looks like they apologized. My experience has been that social media outrage has like a 2-3 week lifecycle... if you can ride that out people forget, because they've already "liked" another 500 posts.  

But I'm Gen X, not a millennial. And the younger crowd puts a lot more stock in the power of social media than I do, I think.  

Glenn Schuler · · Monument, Co. · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 1,320

What does Erin Monahan think of all this?

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,450
Glenn Schuler wrote: What does Erin Monahan think of all this?

She thinks it's white supremacy.

https://www.facebook.com/terraincognitamedia/

Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,395
caughtinside wrote:

https://www.facebook.com/terraincognitamedia/

I’ve never flagged a post before, but if you link that lunatic’s page again, I will level in your direction an escalating series of inappropriate and confusing threats.

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,450
Jaren Watson wrote:

I’ve never flagged a post before, but if you link that lunatic’s page again, I will level in your direction an escalating series of inappropriate and confusing threats.

U triggered, bro?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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