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Progress Report and What’s Next: WTA’s Work Toward Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

In early 2018, WTA’s leadership, board and staff came together to develop a detailed 3-year plan to strengthen and advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) throughout our organization, our partnerships and our programs. The plan was meant to provide a set of long-term goals, strategies and actionable steps that WTA could take to advance our organization’s commitment to DEI and was intended as a living document, to be updated based on progress and learnings along the way. 

Read our full report for a detailed look back at our key milestones, accomplishments and lessons learned.

Key lessons

As with any journey, we learned a lot along the way about what worked and what didn’t. Overall we are proud of the progress we’ve made, but we acknowledge that there remains significant work to be done. In particular we’ve learned: 

  • DEI is shared work across the organization: It’s important that every team contributes and that we make sure our staff have capacity for this work. It has also been key to create space for questions and discussions about the goals and plan. 
  • Leadership support is critical: Support from WTA staff leadership and the board was critical in the development of WTA’s DEI plan. More recently, having a dedicated senior leader supporting DEI efforts on an ongoing basis was important both for thought-partnership and guidance. 
  • It takes time to make changes and evaluate new processes: Relationships and trust take time to develop, and they are at the heart of nearly all of our successes. It took dedicated effort and a willingness to listen to partner needs and to adapt our programs and approaches to meet those needs. You can’t do this sort of work quickly!

Key successes

We have committed real time and resources to DEI work: We know that creating cultural change takes time and dedicated work. So we have conducted regular trainings and discussions about equity issues. We also build equity into people’s work plans. Our employees aren’t expected to fit in this work around the edges. The recent additions of a White caucus, for instance, has given our White employees more space to discuss hard topics without demanding work from our BIPOC coworkers

We have increased representation across WTA’s communications channels: One of the early focuses of our DEI work was to increase the diversity of storytelling, visual representation and topics across WTA — in our magazine, website and social media — to better reflect the hiking community. We did this, in part, by reaching out to contributors from under-represented communities and paying for their work. 

We have welcomed new volunteers: One way we have been working to be more inclusive is by offering shared-identity events. From 2018 to 2020 we offered 59 such events, including work parties for LGBTQ+ youth, Latina youth, all-girls events and more. We’ve also created new Intro to Trailwork events to help people try out volunteering in a low-pressure, inclusive environment. 

We have offer regular training to our leaders: We have provided — and will continue to provide — training to our crew leaders to ensure they have the skills they need to support a welcoming environment with our volunteers.

We have supported community groups: We have directly supported community groups and partners through our Outdoor Leadership Training (OLT) funding assistance program. This program provides up to $500 in funding support to community partners to help mitigate the cost of outdoor experiences for youth. 

What’s next

This work will never be done. Using what we’ve learned already, we’re in the progress of creating a 3-year plan to carry this work forward. When that plan is complete, we’ll share it here. You can also keep up-to-date on work we are doing on our Trails for Everyone campaign