Something many companies struggle with happens to be their diversity and inclusion (D&I). Usually, they are good with half of the equation, the “D” of D&I. The “diversity” part is easy and controllable. It’s the “I” that needs a boost.
After speaking with leaders and executives in companies and nonprofit organizations, we’ve noticed a few things that consistently came up: their talent, their people, and specifically challenges with morale, engagement, and D&I.
Even those companies many hold in the highest regard and as exemplars—such as those in the tech sector—still don’t do well, as indicated by the systemic gender bias and pay inequality. Many don’t even appear on Thompson Reuter’s Top 100 Most Diverse and Inclusive Companies Index.
At Adventure for Charity, we’ve found many companies, including those who claim to be best in class, do a good job hiring diverse talent—the “D.” However, the inclusion (“I”) solutions often appear to be good tools to sustain the change they hope for, yet fall short of achieving: training (is there a way to train D&I?), board structure, mentorship, diversity councils, and groups. Yet, there’s something huge still missing.
The critical piece that is missing is the spark, the catalyst for change and breakthrough at a deep visceral level of each person.
Magic happens when we’re out of our element and outside of our comfort zone. That’s where we find the breakthrough in the I of the D&I equation—in the great outdoors.
- The human brain works differently in the great outdoors. In fact, we are wired to be outside. “The frontal lobe, the part of our brain that’s hyper-engaged in modern life, deactivates a little when you are outside,” says author Florence Williams.
- Both sides of our brain fire up when we move and are active, leading to greater clarity, creativity, and communication.
- Motion drives emotion. Or, as Tony Robbins says, “Emotion is created by motion.” If there is emotion associated with what we learn, then what we learn impacts us and sticks with us.
- We move from 2-D (snaps, tweets, “likes,” board rooms, training rooms, virtual learning, talking head learning) to 4-D and experience the world, learn, and grow with all of our senses.
- When we’re outside, barriers go down, and openness, team play, and collaboration increase.
- When you add a challenge, people help and support each other (regardless of color, creed, or conviction), and the “I” in D&I explodes. Bias, whether implicit or unconscious, takes a backseat, and people get to know each other and learn and understand the other’s journey and perspective. Fear of the unknown is replaced by a conversation, curiosity, understanding, and respect. Even if differences still remain—and that’s okay—the breakthrough is made.
Being outside and doing an adventure challenge is the catalyst, the spark for change at a visceral level for each person. It may sound small, yet, psychologically, it is significant.
How do we sustain the change and breakthrough? With the aforementioned strategies already in play at many companies: job rotations, mentorship, diversity councils, and diversity groups.
And while tapping the power of being outside goes beyond team building activities like ropes courses, trust falls, branded t-shirt day in the community, it does not have to involve a expedition to the summit of Kilimanjaro or a bike ride across the US. Everyone’s definition of adventure and challenge is different, from one-day outdoor explorations to four-day Grand Canyon hikes, to epic multi-day adventures of a lifetime across the globe, like Costa Rica coast-to-coast on a road or a mountain bike. You choose; just #getoutside!
Whatever works for you and your team, we are willing to make a bet that tapping the power of the outdoors will take your D&I efforts as well as strategy execution to the next level.
With our awesome model, tapping the power of the outdoors through an adventure challenge often does not cost the company a penny. The investment is creativity and an open and innovative mind. Return on this investment is priceless.
GET OUTSIDE. HAVE FUN. DO GOOD and boost the “I” in your “D&I”.