One of the four Outdoor Industry CEO Diversity Pledge commitments is to share learnings with other leading brands and to appreciate the importance of sharing learnings with the MEC community. It is crucial to share the progress and setbacks we have faced while doing the work, as more organizations and people are committing to support diverse communities.
Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned and how we are continuing to act. We’ll continue to update this page as we set new commitments and make progress.
Progress we’ve made
- Representation in imagery: We heard from members, who identify as people of colour, letting us know how it feels to see themselves in MEC images, and we also heard from many who are still waiting to be seen. MEC is committed to continuing to represent Black, Indigenous and communities of colour in our imagery.
- DISCo at MEC: In November 2018, our executive team began to sponsor an internal Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee (DISCo).
- Beyond DISCo: We’ve learned that our committee does not replace the expertise of internal and external professional experience in important issues like unconscious bias and cultural appropriation. MEC commits to the ongoing support of the DISCo and engaging professional consultants, when necessary. Additionally, based on member feedback, MEC commits to providing further diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) progress reports. We’re proud of the work that DISCo has done but we’ve learned that a diversity and inclusion committee operated within the organization will not be enough. We must hold all MEC partners to a high DE&I standard. MEC commits to building on existing processes where we encourage our vendors to adopt similar practices.
- Community support: Relative to our nearly 35-year history of financially contributing to the outdoor community, we recognize that our contribution to Black, Indigenous, and people of colour-led outdoor initiatives should have been greater. We are working to change that. From 2018–2020, we actively focused on outdoor community investments driven by diverse organizations that support and lead programs for equity-seeking groups. For 2021, we are contributing to national outdoor community partners by providing gear and funding to support priorities we both have in common. This means a larger focus on diversity, equity and inclusion while working with our national partners; some examples include co-developing grants available to Black, Indigenous and people of colour-led organizations; supporting DEI training and development within partner organizations; and directly funding programs that make the outdoors a more inclusive place. Partners will be accountable to reporting their actions and results. The goal is to support meaningful change within iconic national outdoor groups.
- Ambassador program: In 2018, we recognized that MEC’s Ambassador program didn’t represent the diverse outdoor communities in Canada. A team of Ambassadors that lead by example and showcase the diversity in the outdoors is powerful. Our Ambassadors, who support through content, events, and reviews, exemplify outdoor active pursuits. MEC is committed to continuing to support and amplify outdoor athletes and leaders of colour.
- Toolkits for staff: In 2020, we compiled an evolving collection of resources for staff so they can continue to learn from the lived experiences of others.
- Challenging the status quo: In 2020, we pushed our staff benefits program to include more gender options for staff.
- Recognizing important days: As significant days appear on the calendar, we’re highlighting them with staff on our internal site, based on a collaborative calendar shared with our own DEI committee. A few examples: Transgender Day of Remembrance, Pride Month, Diwali, International Women’s Day, and Remembrance Day with a focus on the contributions of Black, Indigenous and queer communities.
- Better understanding of staff diversity: As of 2020, our annual staff surveys can now help us better understand our diverse workforce. We’ve introduced a way for staff to let us know what communities they belong to, if they wish to share. These surveys are anonymous and optional.
- New store signage: In 2020, we installed respectful workplace signage to let staff and members know we’re committed to creating an environment free of bias or discrimination. If anyone observes actions inconsistent with this commitment, the signage asks them to contact the store manager or Member Service Desk.
- Unconscious bias training for staff: In 2021, Amil Reddy, a Certified Canadian Inclusion Professional, led the first set of training to store managers and head office staff. It was a powerful session – we explored privilege, systemic inequalities, cross-cultural communication and our own unconscious biases. The goals are for staff to feel more comfortable discussing sensitive topics, for leaders to accept teams with authenticity, and for everyone to broaden their perspectives at work and in the world. We’ll be rolling out similar training for every MEC staffer across Canada by summer 2021, including a focus on inclusive member service.
What we’re working on next
We’ve been hard at work to make change happen, and we still have more work to go.
- More inclusive hiring practices: We’re working to support the introduction of anonymized screening for potential candidates, where names and genders aren’t visible to prevent unconscious biases from affecting decisions.
- Higher standards for accessibility training: In January 2021, we’re launching new accessibility training for staff (with a focus on store staff). Accessibility training standards vary by province, and this new training will elevate all staff across Canada to the highest standards.
- More ways to celebrate and recognize differences: We want to elevate awareness of the wide-reaching cultures and beliefs that make up our MEC staff teams. Some ideas include book clubs, social meetings and opportunities for people to connect, explore diverse views, discuss thought-provoking topics, and learn from each other.