Respect Outside: Creating Civility Within the Outdoor Industry

by Mar 14, 2022

Based on our “Respect Outside: Creating Civility Within the Outdoor Industry” Episode with Gina McClard

A lot more people are trying to get out into the outdoors for some solace and love being outside. They love the environment, climbing, skiing, or biking, and so they spend their time around other people who love that too.

The beauty of civility and approaching a workplace with civility is that you can start to take an intersectional approach and work on all different egregious behaviors in the workplace.

There are different risk factors for discriminatory harassment in outdoor spaces:

Homogenous workplace

Traditionally, people who are out there pursuing or actually getting into business in the outdoor industry are men and white males. If you have these certain elements present and work in the outdoor industry, it increases your likelihood of seeing sexual harassment or sexual gender discrimination in your workplace.

Young workers 

The outdoor industry really attracts young people. So young people are coming in. You have to deal with young people who mostly don’t really know how to comport themselves in a professional workplace.

People see themselves as kind of divorced from the corporate nine to five.

The outdoor industry takes pride in being separated from nine to five jobs. That also plays into this kind of mentality that “we’re a little bit different.” “We don’t need to abide by all these corporate rules because we’re more laid back here in the outdoor industry.”

People that work in isolated workplaces 

Isolated workplaces increase the ability of someone to engage in unwanted and unwelcomed behaviors, but nobody’s going to call them out on it because there’s nobody there.

Cultures that engage or encourage alcohol use 

The outdoor industry is very much like many of these organizations, having events where people consume alcohol with clients or customers. It’s naturally part of the long-standing recreational aspect of work that is a risk factor for an increased likelihood of seeing sexual harassment and sexual discrimination in the workplace.

A superstar employee or a high-value employee 

They bring prestige and value to the organization because they’re the ones that have gotten a lot of recognition and awards. So these are the individuals that bring a lot. These are the kinds of employees that you just don’t want to call out for unwanted behavior because they bring so much value to your organization.

Contention in regular life

It is very appropriate for today. Seeing society outside of your workplace or coarsened social discord. You see, all of these kinds of things somehow seep into our society so that people feel a little bit more comfortable being uncivil and being discriminatory. 

There are a lot of people in the outdoor industry who are very committed and interested in changing that going forward.

If we’re actually going to prevent harassment, then we have to prevent the risk factors that can facilitate harassment.

How are we going to build the culture we want to see?

By practicing bystander intervention. It is when you see something that is unwelcome, unfair, discriminatory or of a bullying nature in your workplace. You are empowered by your organization and by management to be able to step in and stop it and say something on its behalf. Also, if you see something that your co-worker is doing that’s good, that’s the behavior you want to see, you want to foster, call that out, and highlight it. We encourage employees to be able to say when they see something good and when they see something bad, but we also train on how this can help you in the real world. How this manifests and manifests itself, as well as how you can exhibit and practice those behaviors.

If we teach civility side by side with these new workplace behaviors, because you have to have a basis for how you approach your co-workers, what language do you use? You know, people have to have their report, and you have to have the rapport that civility provides.

As a business, you know if you just promote calling out your co-workers on their unwanted behavior. You’re walking down a really scary road, especially in this day and age when we’re politically divided and there’s so much contention and you’re seeing people who are just flaming each other. We use that floor of civility. It’s really more about how you keep your co-workers’ needs and desires in mind as you walk through your day, and how it would be if everybody was working like us. As for me being concerned about you being concerned about me, it just makes for such a better place to show up and go to work and be your full self.

You don’t have to be confrontational. Just making your presence known could be an intervention for sure. When you also train on civility, you’re giving people tools on how to deal with situations where they feel like they do want to directly confront someone. How do you do that? How do you protect yourself? How do you prepare yourself to go into a direct confrontation? That might be really scary, and that can stress us all out. There are some people who love confrontation on a daily basis, but for the most part, there are those who avoid it. So when you bring this level of civility and you explain that civility is just not these kinds of mere niceties, but really is a value that we have and you implement that in your policies and procedures and it’s one of your top goals, it’s very hard to say that any kind of unwanted behavior in your workplace is going to be appropriate.

When you’ve got this level of civility, it really sets the tone and it just really helps affect change very fast.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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