THOUGHTS FROM THE OUTDOORS.
Sitting atop of North Dome looking at the Yosemite Valley 3,500 feet below, having just processed the emotion and grandeur of this place, it hit me. I realized why companies struggle with D&I (Diversity and Inclusion). They are good with half the equation, the “D” of D&I. The “I” needs a boost.
Before heading to Yosemite, I had spent few weeks meeting with and speaking with leaders and executives in companies and non-profit organizations. One topic consistently came up: their talent, their people, specifically challenges with morale, engagement and D&I.
Even the companies many hold in the highest regard and as an exemplar, the tech sector, are not doing very well as indicated by systemic gender bias and pay inequality, recently coming to light. Many don’t even appear on Thompson Reuter’s Top 100 Most Diverse and Inclusive Companies Index. Hopefully next year!
I dug in and found that many companies, including the “D&I best in class”, do a good job hiring diverse talent – the “D”. Yet the “I” solutions often seem to be good tools to sustain change they hope for, yet fall short of achieving: training (how do you train D&I?), board structure, mentorship, diversity councils and groups … with something huge still missing. I could not put my finger on it until I got back to the busy-ness and buzz of the city for my flight home.
The critical piece that seems to be missing is the spark, the catalyst for change and breakthrough at a deep visceral level of each person.
Magic happens out there, out of our element, outside of our comfort zone. That’s where we find the breakthrough in the D&I equation – in the great outdoors.
- Human brain works differently in the great outdoors. “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, communication.
- Motion drives emotion. If there is emotion, there is learning impact and stickiness.
- We move from 2D (“Insta”, Snap, Tweet, “Likes”, board room, training room, virtual learning, talking head learning) to 4D and experience the world, learn, grow with all of our senses.
- In the great outdoors, barriers go down, openness, team play, and collaboration all increase.
- 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 back seat, people get to know each other, learn and understand the other’s journey, perspective. Fear of the unknown is replaced by a conversation, curiosity, understanding and respect. Even if differences still remain, and that’s OK, the breakthrough is made.
The great outdoors and an adventure challenge – this is the catalyst, the spark for change at a visceral level of each person. It may seem small, yet psychologically this is significant.
How to sustain the change and the breakthrough? With the aforementioned strategies already in play at many companies: job rotations, mentorship, diversity councils, diversity groups.
And while tapping the power of the great outdoors goes beyond team building activities like ropes or trust falls, it does not have to be a trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro or bike ride across the USA. Everyone’s definition of adventure and challenge is different, from 1-day outdoor explorations, 4-day Grand Canyon trek, 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, I am willing to make a bet that tapping the power of the great outdoors will take your D&I efforts as well as strategy execution to the next level!
What do you think? Are you willing to make a bet?
P.S. With our awesome model, tapping the power of the great outdoors via an adventure challenge often does not cost the company a penny. The investment is creativity, an open and innovative mind. The return on investment? Priceless.
About Adventure for Charity
Adventure for Charity (AFC) is an adventure travel company with a twist and the first company in North America with unique blend of capabilities in adventure travel, non-profit, peer-to-peer fundraising, consulting, health and well-being. AFC is a mission driven social entrepreneurship outfit that creates positive impact in the world one adventure challenge at a time by:
- Helping non-profit organizations fundraise and engage in a unique way.
- Improving companies’ employee engagement, health, culture, talent development, strategic planning.
- Enabling individuals to get outside, have fun, do good.
About adventure challenges
Multi-day or single-day adventures, and experiences of a lifetime, in various disciplines, including hiking, trekking, cycling, mountain biking, or water sports.
- Bring people together to support important causes.
- Help non-profits and companies succeed by leveraging the great outdoors.
- Challenge the participants’ physical abilities, creativity, and dedication.
- Incredible locations around the globe.
Learn more by visiting: www.adventureforcharity.com