When it comes to promoting DEI in the workplace, companies now, more than ever, are hungry for guidance.
That was the idea that precipitated the release of Camber Outdoors' newest DEI tool, the Workplace Anti-Racism Action Agenda. Published last month, the agenda represents the response to an outcry, said Camber chief programs officer Renita Smith—a call for direction in promoting anti-racism in the workplace.
"After the recent national focus on systemic racism and police brutality, we heard so many voices from the industry emerge at once," Smith said. "They were all asking the same thing: How do we respond to this? Companies want to know, desperately, how to back up words with action."
That is, in essence, the idea behind the Workplace Anti-Racism Action Agenda. The one-page document is a high-level framework for translating statements and best intentions into applied change. Helping organizations implement DEI practices has long been a central part of Camber's mission, but the group felt that recent events—and the flood of requests that followed—merited the creation of a new tool designed specifically for this moment in time.
"We pulled this together quickly, in a matter of weeks," Smith said, "but it was a natural outgrowth of years of work. It flows out of our overall mission and purpose."
A set of guiding principles
The tool is built around a three-steps process—learn, act, and change—that runs along three parallel "tracks" for promoting inclusion. This framework is meant to combat racism from various angles within organizations, ensuring that progress is multi-dimensional and deeply integrated.
"This is a set of guiding principles, a model," Smith said. "It's meant to be a jumping off point, but one that gives specific examples for action that can be taken immediately."
She noted that, while the document is available to anyone who wants to download it, only Camber's 200+ corporate partners will have access to the full suite of tools Camber has developed to help "activate" it. (The group does offer a limited number of free resources, available here.)
"At Camber, we don’t have a system where people can come in and out," Smith said in response to the question of opening the activation tools to everyone. "Our programs have been developed to work cohesively on a long-term basis. Imagine you’re in ninth grade. You don't get to just pick one class to take in ninth grade. You take every class for a year. It's like that. Companies become members of Camber [which operates on a yearly membership schedule] because they have a long-term commitment to the work."
A starting point for newcomers
Camber declined to name any of its member companies that have begun using the activation tools, but a representative for Camber confirmed that the Workplace Anti-Racism Action Agenda itself has been downloaded more than 300 times so far. A large portion of those downloads likely came from non-members.
"As a free service to non-members, we hosted a Facebook Live event with Verde Brand Communications that drew an audience of 3,000," Smith said. "For some companies, depending on where they are in their DEI efforts, this was a catalyst."
Smith noted that Camber has seen an uptick in businesses forming employee resource groups—one of the specific actions outlined in the Agenda—since the release of the tool.
Smith stressed the point that, all things considered, this new resource is merely a starting point, an answer to the specific concern that precipitated its creation in the first place: how to back up words with action. For many businesses in the industry, though, a starting point is sorely needed right now, Smith said.
"If we can help companies address the question of where to begin," she concluded, "we'll be on the path to creating deeper change."