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Racism & Change

Racism & Change

In the face of the brutal murder of George Floyd it has been difficult to know how to respond without sounding trite. The last thing anyone needs is another hollow statement filled with platitudes designed to make people feel some sort of short-lived catharsis. It might give temporary respite but it doesn’t change things in the long term. 

At this moment and for many moments in front of us, reflection is what is needed: deep, honest, uncomfortable reflection. Why? Because the reality is that those of us in positions of privilege have not been willing to take the actions necessary, each day of each week of each month of each year to actively challenge inequality, racism and discrimination. It’s hard to do, and often we take a more comfortable path. I count myself in that category. 

Now is the perfect time for us to look to ourselves and our actions, and that is why I am looking at Womenclimb and reflecting on how far we have yet to go. The outdoor industry as a whole is very white and relatively affluent. In the UK 87.2% of people are white british, which means that 12.8% are from other ethnic backgrounds. In 2019, around 12% of Womenclimb members were from non-white british backgrounds, which looks like quite a good number. Behind that figure are a large number of Europeans, so whilst we love this aspect of our diversity, our membership doesn’t quite reflect the demographics of the UK, which is 6.8% asian (Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian) and 3.4% black. 

There’s something else I want to share. When you take a look at our website, you’ll see a lot of lovely articles with images from our climbing adventures. What you might notice in the context of this conversation is that our images are almost exclusively of white CIS-gender women. 

What does this all mean? We have work to do. But, in all of this, what I am desperate to avoid is tokenism and box ticking. Whatever actions we take in the coming weeks, months & years, they have to be driven by a genuine desire for real change that impacts the lives of people authentically and meaningfully. 

Here and now, I pledge not to sign up to an impossible charter, but instead, to work with the team to identify ways that we can authentically support people from ethnic minorities and to challenge discrimination in the UK for the long-term goal of race equality. 

Emily Pitts

Founder & CEO, Womenclimb

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