Diversifying MEC’s Marketing

More and more research finds that people of diverse ethnic backgrounds are active in the outdoors – why hasn’t outdoor marketing caught on?

This is the question Vancouverite, outdoor enthusiast, and Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) member Judith Kasiama asked MEC on her Instagram feed earlier this year. A dialogue ensued with MEC, followed by an apology and promise from MEC’s CEO David Labistour in an open letter titled “Do white people dominate the outdoors?”

“If you consider every advertisement you’ve ever seen for skiing, hiking, climbing and camping, you might think that’s the case,” Labistour wrote. “It isn’t true at all and it’s part of a bigger problem…The truth is that we haven’t represented the diversity of Canadians or of our 5 million members. WE’VE LET OUR MEMBERS DOWN.”

Labistour continued by promising that MEC would take steps to improve representation so that it reflects the diversity of its members. These steps include changes to its marketing policies as well as to the nomination process to the 9-member Board of Directors to encourage qualified members with diverse ethnic backgrounds to seek election.

“I promise that moving forward, we will make sure we’re inspiring and representing the diverse community that already exists in the outdoors,” Labistour concludes in his letter. “Outside is for everyone. It’s time we acted like it.”

Photo: Mountain Equipment Co-op

Jonathan Fraenkel-Eidse