New Running Industry Diversity Coalition takes on systemic racism in the business of running

SEATTLE, WA & GOLETA, CA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–We are proud to announce the formation of the Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC), a new, national coalition of running brands, running retailers, and runners representing Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), brought together through our love of running and dedicated to ending the existing systemic racism in the running industry and running community.

“I have been in the running industry for eight years and I have always known there are not a lot of people who look like me, and the sport is not as inclusive as people claim it to be”

The coalition is led by co-chairs Alison Mariella Désir, founder of Harlem Run and Run 4 All Women, and Chris Lampen-Crowell, co-owner of Gazelle Sports, and leadership committee partners:

  • John Benedict, Playmakers, Running Industry Association President
  • Martha Garcia, HOKA ONE ONE, Director of Global Brand Creative and Communications
  • Robyn Goby, Fleet Feet, Vice President of Development
  • Verna Volker, Native Women Running
  • Shannon Woods, Brooks Running, Senior Manager Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
  • Teresa Baker, Co-Founder, Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge (advisor)

Grants from Brooks and HOKA ONE ONE are funding the establishment of the coalition. In a joint statement, Brooks CEO Jim Weber and HOKA ONE ONE President Wendy Yang said, “Brooks and HOKA are brands comprised of people who love running. We are committed to continuing the work of representing our sport—and all runners—in authentic ways, and to making the joy of movement accessible to everyone. We are proud of the work RIDC has committed to doing and look forward to seeing progress made within the industry and sport we all love so much.”

Whether running on roads, trails, or tracks, signing up for a first 5K or running an ultra-marathon, running can be a beautiful and life-changing experience. For more than 50 years, the business of running—run specialty retail, race organizations, running brands and vendors—has grown and developed as running became popular throughout the United States.

Running has been characterized as accessible and offering an opportunity to gain fitness and self-worth wherever the journey begins, but in practice this has not been the case for all.

“I have been in the running industry for eight years and I have always known there are not a lot of people who look like me, and the sport is not as inclusive as people claim it to be,” said co-chair Alison Mariella Désir. “This is an opportunity to help folks in power change the systems that make it that way—to finally open up running.”

“I started Gazelle Sports 35 years ago and have always held a belief that running is a welcoming and inclusive activity. My naive bias allowed me to promote an openness to running stores and the running industry that was not the truth for BIPOC runners. With the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, I feel a deep responsibility to listen, learn and educate myself and transform my business to become anti-racist,” said co-chair Chris Lampen-Crowell. “There is white privilege, white power and systemic racism in almost all industries, and the running industry is no different. I envision working collaboratively to do the hard work to remove our racial bias, become diverse, and eliminate systemic racism. I am optimistic that the running industry and running communities will take this work to heart and make a real impact.”

As a working group, the RIDC seeks to challenge the current status while amplifying the inclusion, access and roles of BIPOC in our industry. The coalition is united by the belief that running, walking, and fitness support a healthy culture, and should be accessible for everyone—regardless of race, religion, gender identity, sexuality, immigration status, socioeconomic status, and ability.

Collectively, and as individuals, RIDC partners commit to the following goals:

  1. Conversation: Creating opportunities for discussion that listen to marginalized people in this space so that we may better understand their experiences.
  2. Naming: Building deep industry reflection to uncover and name the systems of racism within our businesses, the running community, and the culture of running.
  3. Representation: Increasing authentic representation in stories, images, marketing, athletes, ambassadors and product wear-test/feedback. Promote partnerships between the running industry and BIPOC running organizations.
  4. Education: Commit to ongoing DEI and anti-racist training, with a particular focus on anti-blackness, in our industry. Promote and acknowledge the Indigenous lands whenever and wherever races occur.
  5. Employment: Hiring, supporting, and developing marginalized people in all positions from internships to leadership.
  6. Ownership/Leadership: Supporting diversity in ownership of running businesses and events through creating pathways to make this possible. Increase diversity within the leadership structure of running brands and other companies servicing runners.
  7. Access: Decreasing real barriers and racist structures to running for people of color.
  8. Accountability: Remaining open to meeting people where they are, dialogue, critique and regularly interrogating our process and progress.
  9. Resources: Provide a platform to share best practices, measurements, and critical resources.

The coalition is seeking participation from across the run community, including retailers, brands, national organizations, events, clubs, nonprofits, and local businesses. Interested partners can email hello@runningdiversity.com or visit the RIDC website at runningdiversity.com. Partners are asked to commit to a series of actions, including participating in training and education, increasing diversity in their business, and improving the authentic representation of black, indigenous and people of color in branding and communications.

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