The racial injustice conversations have been powerful as of late, and several athletes and organizations within the world of sports have emerged as leaders. Now, it’s the running community that is strengthening its stance.
Today, market leaders have come together to reveal The Running Industry Diversity Coalition, a group of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) from running brands, retailers and runners formed to create “a more equitable and inclusive running industry where race, religion, gender identity, sexuality, immigration status, socioeconomic status and ability do not serve as barriers for full enjoyment.” Furthermore, it’s purpose is to “increase representation and access to employment, leadership and power for those who have historically been excluded from the running industry.”
The coalition’s leadership features some of the most respected people in running. The co-chairs, for instance, are founder of New York-based running group Harlem Run — and FN cover star — Alison Désir and Chris Lampen-Crowell of retailer Gazelle Sports.
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“Bringing together all sectors of the industry — from brands to running retailers, to events and individual athletes — the Running Industry Diversity Coalition has the opportunity to create a more equitable and inclusive running community, one where everyone truly can ‘just show up.’ I’m honored to be a co-chair and work with such a passionate and talented leadership team to guide the coalition as well as learn and grow along the way,” Désir told FN.
The committee includes Hoka One One director of global brand creative and communications Martha Garcia; Native Women Running founder Verna Volker; Playmakers owner and Running Industry Association president John Benedict; Fleet Feet VP of development Robyn Goby; and Brooks senior manager of diversity, equity and inclusion Shannon Woods.
And its advisor is Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge co-founder Teresa Baker.
“At Brooks, we really believe that the run is for everybody and that running really has the potential to be the most inclusive sport in the world. The fact that we’re able to work together as an industry, means that we have the power to make positive change, not only by representing those who already run, but also breaking down barriers and inviting more people into the sport of running,” Woods told FN.
The coalition also outlined a set of goals, nine in total, that includes creating discussions to better understand the experiences of marginalized people; uncovering and naming the systems of racism within our businesses, the running community and the culture of running; and increasing representation in stories, images, marketing, athletes, ambassadors and product feedback.
What’s else, the coalition wants there to be a commitment to ongoing DEI and anti-racist training in the industry, the employment of marginalized people in all positions, the support of diversity in ownership of businesses and events and to decrease the barriers and racist structures to running for people of color.
Lastly, the coalition calls for greater accountability and to have platforms provided to share best practices, measurements and critical resources.
“The Running Industry Diversity Coalition is more important now than ever because it’s about sustaining momentum and accountability to furthering our individual and collective commitments to diversity, equity and inclusivity. I have referred to DEI work as the never ending ultramarathon with no reward at the end. I say this because it’s important to pace yourself, meet people where they are and to hold courageous space for each other’s progress. RIDC is joining forces to do that — and more,” Garcia said. “We are all united in our love for running, walking and fitness, and I am grateful to work with the coalition leadership team to bring the running industry along in creating a more equitable future for Black, Indigenous and people of color.”