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Stepping into Opportunities

Stepping into Opportunities

A message from our Founder & CEO, Emily Pitts.

Very often we get asked to do things for free, as volunteers. It’s important for us to balance our personal lives, work lives, home lives and social lives, so this can sometimes make stepping up difficult.

We know that the outdoor sector is inhabited by men more than women, and by white people more than those from ethnic minorities. It is HARD to be in a room where you’re the only person that looks like you, whether that’s ethnicity, gender, class or any other defining feature of our identity. It can be lonely, tough and demoralising. But… it can also bring great value and you can be involved in real and genuine change, sometimes in ways you never even realised.

Recently I stepped down from a prestigious role as president of my mountaineering club, as I felt I wasn’t giving enough or doing the role justice due to my life commitments. What I realised when I did this was that there were lots of positive things that I didn’t perceive. The day to day challenges took centre stage in my mind and this stopped me from seeing the positive effects that my work was having. It was especially helpful to hear these things when making decisions about my other roles (as Chair of the BMC North West Area and Head at Womenclimb). Here is one example:

“Though an “oldie”, no longer active in the Club, I have been impressed by your energy and determination, since you became President, to breathe new life into the club and to move forward with essential changes needed to keep our Club modern in outlook and adapted to the future.”

So what am I saying?

1. Get involved

No matter what your time commitments, get involved in some way, if you can. We’ve got a consultation event coming up at Womenclimb that we would love you to be involved in, for example. If you can come to this and help us to grow as an organisation, that would be a great contribution. Don’t fancy this? There are many other organisations who are keen to build diversity into the fabric of the way the work (Mountain Training, ABCTT, BMC). Look on their website and find out more.

2. Join a Board

Representation at board level is crucial, to ensure that diversity spans all levels. The ABCTT are looking for people for their NICAS board right now (closing date June 2020). Have you heard of them? If not, take a look at our article. If that doesn’t match right now, there are opportunities all around, either one-off or ongoing at places like the BMC and even here at Womenclimb (we particularly need writers right now, who can contribute one article per week to our blog).

3. Encourage Someone Else

If you don’t have time, think about your networks, and encourage someone who does have the time and skills to step up.

4. Give out praise

If you can see someone from an underrepresented group doing an awesome job, tell them. It’s really simple and it can take less than 5 minutes via email.

5. Share a pep talk

If someone is having a challenging time, give them a pep talk to remind them of the things that are working, the positive impact they have had and how important their input is. Sometimes managers aren’t the right people to do this and co-workers, friends or family are the best people to give us a boost of confidence and energy.

6. Keep going

Right now, if you’re a volunteer on the sharp end, step back, look at what you’ve done, ask around to see what people think has changed since you’ve been working on your project/role. Write a list, stick it on your fridge and remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Keep up the good work and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day (it took 1000+ years, but let’s hope that equality doesn’t take that long!).

Be the change you want to see

Good luck – let us know how you get on.

Emily Pitts

Founder & CEO Womenclimb

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