December 19, 2023

Reimagining Workplaces: Tiffany Smith’s Insights on Diversity and Inclusion in the Outdoors [EP 416]

Show Notes

Rick Saez
Rick Saez
Reimagining Workplaces: Tiffany Smith's Insights on Diversity and Inclusion in the Outdoors [EP 416]
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Welcome to episode 416 of The Outdoor Biz Podcast, brought to you this week by Thrive Market. See why over 1 million members love Thrive – shop 6,000+ products curated by our experts. Organic? Non-GMO? Vegan, paleo, keto? Gluten-free? You name it, Thrive Market caters to it.

Today, I’m talking with Tiffany Smith, CEO of Camber Outdoors. Tiffany and Camber Outdoors are dedicated to empowering the Outdoor Recreation Economy industry to build workplaces where people from all communities, backgrounds, identities, faiths, and worldviews can thrive.

Brought to you this week by Thrive Market

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You can contact me here: rick@theoutdoorbizpodcast.com

Show Notes

– You have years of experience in the non-profit world, how were you inspired to pursue that path?

One of my mentors, Dr. Bob Long, used to work for the Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek. There was this opportunity [00:02:40] that came up with the Urban League, and he thought I should go for it. And, a few other leaders at the Urban League also thought I should go for it, so I did.

I [00:02:50] put together, a unique proposal. They were looking for someone to do fundraising for them, and I wasn’t really even quite sure, What that really looked like, but I was great in sales, and I [00:03:00] was excellent in marketing. And so when Dr. Long began to explain to me a little bit more about the role and what it looks like, I was like, you know what, I can do this.

And I’ll put my name in a hat. [00:03:10] I created a proposal for the Urban League around what I could do for them in reference to being their fundraising consultant. And, They hired [00:03:20] me, trusted me, to do that. And within the first year, I raised over a million dollars for that. At that moment, I [00:03:30] knew that the passion that I had to be able to mark the passion around sales and around engagement with relationships could merge with [00:03:40] my passion for community and mission work. And so it was like the perfect marriage for me getting into the non-profit world.

– What led you to Camber?

Oh, man, I was finishing up with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society [00:05:40]. Great organization. And I had been working there, as their regional director.

And, you reach a point in your [00:05:50] career, I believe, where you outgrow certain areas, right? That’s true. and, sometimes, we heed it, and we take the nudge, and other times we don’t. [00:06:00] And I was feeling that nudge. It was right around when everything happened with George Floyd. And so, like everyone else in the world, you’re rethinking everything you’re [00:06:10] thinking.

Your job, your family structure, your work life balance, what does that look like? And so that was in that moment for me. And I said, I think it’s time for me to up [00:06:20] level and identify, an organization where the impact goes beyond my last name. I always say this because I mean it with [00:06:30] everything within me.

It’s really important that my legacy doesn’t stop with the Smiths. And when Camber approached me [00:06:40], they had this unique position for c

Chief Development Officer. the first of its kind for that organization, [00:06:50] and the workaround being able to transform workspaces to be more inclusive was extremely attractive to me to be able to come [00:07:00] in, not just to impact the individual lives in the workspaces and to.

Help companies build more competitive [00:07:10] opportunities, but to understand that the work that is being done has the potential to impact an entire industry. [00:07:20] That was powerful to me.

– Walk us through Cambers Roadmap to Workplace Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity

Camber’s roadmap to workplace inclusion, equity, and diversity. We align and partner with [00:13:30] corporations, small businesses, and nonprofits to help and support their needs around workplace, DEI.

And once they become a partner with Camber, we have the [00:13:40] Camber Survey System, which, next year is going to receive National recognition from the American Evaluation Association. It’s [00:13:50] going to be a case study. We partnered with Claremont Graduate Center years ago to develop a very robust survey around DEI in workspaces [00:14:00], and in doing so, the work that we’re doing and how we are sharing our information with our partners and how we’re aligning our [00:14:10] programming.

To support the survey, the American Advising Association has recognized that we’ve identified a different pathway for [00:14:20] evaluation and research across industries across the board. And so we’re going to be recognized next year for that. And we’re really [00:14:30] looking forward to it because we’ve seen a lot of progress with our partners.

And so, the campus survey system is a 2 part survey. We have a workplace component and an [00:14:40] employee component. The workplace component is where we have a leadership to complete the survey. The 2nd. Part of the survey is where the employees complete the exact [00:14:50] same survey, and they share with us their lived experiences versus the vision of the leadership.

That’s good. And upon that, [00:15:00] we then, collect the data. And we identify the areas that the corporations are doing amazing at, and then also the [00:15:10] opportunities, where we see that they need to really change, to modify if they truly want to become and build an environment that’s inclusive for [00:15:20] everyone.

Based upon that data, we then tailor our programming to align with the needs of that particular partner. And we have programming in [00:15:30] place that helps them to move the needle in any area that the survey has shown that they need help or support in, and that the partners then are [00:15:40] able to streamline all of the programming across their entire organization.

So every single employee has access to all of our programs, resources, and tools [00:15:50] when they become a Camber partner. And based upon that movement and that application of programming, along with our other flagship programming, we’re seeing change [00:16:00] happen.

– Your profile lists you as the primary revenue facilitator (I love that description). What are some of the ways you facilitate revenue?

From my long history of being [00:20:50] in development in the nonprofit space, 17 plus years, there is a unique way that I like to think about generating revenue. and now in my role as CEO, it’s,[00:21:00] I guess I would say I am the relationship facilitator.

But to be honest, that has always been my model when thinking about revenue is [00:21:10] being able to uniquely identify whether I’m talking about an individual, a foundational corporation, identify alignment with mission around a [00:21:20] common ground or a common cause. And then building it based upon the timing, the alignment, around mission and around [00:21:30] impact. And it becomes not so much me having to ask or beg for money, but just a natural next step in [00:21:40] the relationship that we formed together around this. And go, and I still stick with that. I stick with building [00:21:50] authentic relationships with partners willing to be married to Camber and not to Tiffany, That they’re married to the mission of Camber, that they’re married to the work we’re doing. That they can [00:22:00] see the impact and value that in a way that leads them to contribute or want to be a part of the change, and so my job is [00:22:10] to. Showcase us in a way that the people that are aligned with us, I like to say that is a part of our team, our group, quote [00:22:20] unquote, our people that I highlight us in a way that they’re attracted to us, not because we’re flashy or we have these striking stats, but [00:22:30] because the impact that they’re seeing moves them to action.

Yeah. And the things that you’re doing also fit in with their ethos and their being and all their [00:22:40] things. So they’re going to line up to it, quick, more quickly than others. And they will want to stick around because it’s what they’re all about.

– Who are some of your key partners?

Of course, every single partner means everything to us. But strong support from REI, which has been strong for us throughout the years, [00:23:30] Winnebago Industries, Brooks Running, People for Bikes, the VF Foundation, Keen, SRAM, I can go on and on.

Yeah, a lot of the brand partners. Yeti Coolers [00:23:40], We really span across the outdoors and not in a traditional scope of outdoor industry companies, but more of a wider scope around [00:23:50] outdoor health and wellness and environment. And we have a partner, Helen of Troy, who came on board this year. So we’re really expanding [00:24:00] on how we impact and the companies that we impact, and we’re grateful for every single partner

You’ve held roles with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Girl Scouts, and National Urban League, which of those experiences do you draw on most in your role at Camber?

Oh man, that’s a good [00:25:10] question. I would say that every single role has prepared me for this position. When I think about [00:25:20] Urban League, I think about that as my foundational piece, right? learning the non-profit world, learning how to make a profit in the nonprofit world, right?[00:25:30]

Those pieces that, beyond the mission and sustainability for nonprofits, are financial, right? And then with the Girl Scouts, it was so much of spreading my wings a little bit. [00:25:40] They hired me to, cover a region. And so I had to move for an impact quickly with a city where I had zero contacts, [00:25:50] right?

So it allowed me to quickly engage and know how to emerge myself in an organization and a community quickly to [00:26:00] have impact. And then when I think about LLS, I was able to take a regional or local type concept and grow it to [00:26:10] impact our national brand at LLS. I had a concept or idea around development that was working in my particular region.

I [00:26:20] have some relationships with some celebrity NFL players, and I was able to merge those two worlds together to have a larger impact on a national model [00:26:30] that they’re still doing. So all of these people, I think, have really helped and supported me to be able to work in the industry and in [00:26:40] this space, especially as CEO because I pull it from the mall all the time.

– Are there any initiatives you wish you had more time for?

Yeah [00:27:10] There’s never a shortage of things on our list. I’m sure one of the main things that are on our list and that we’ll be doing more of this year is we did a pilot called Conversations with Camber [00:27:20], and we did it based upon, when I became CEO, and my entire team, we did, what we called coffee with camber.

And so [00:27:30] every single person on my team, along with myself, talked with all of our partners who were willing to speak with us. We were just checking in, and [00:27:40] we were just seeing what we should be doing more of. And it was a founding idea, and I wanted to do it that way, Rick, because I wanted to hear from [00:27:50] every level of leadership.

The old way of DEI says, let’s look at the executives only, let’s have a conversation in a room, and then tell [00:28:00] everyone else. I would like to forge it, let’s have everybody in the room and have a real conversation. Yeah, fantastic. And they [00:28:10] told us that they wanted to convene together and get together and learn more about some practical ways of how to implement DI in their workspaces.

And so we [00:28:20] created Conversations with Camber, which is currently online right now. No, cool. We’ve had three conversations with over 600 plus [00:28:30] people wanting to participate. And we understood it was important for us to have for camber to have an [00:28:40] opportunity to get. Leaders together, whether they’re a Camber partner or not, if they’re in this space and want to learn more around DEI or want to implement different [00:28:50] strategies, we wanted to build a community of leaders that can come together and share what it looks like day to day on how to implement the change that feels like it’s [00:29:00] impossible to do.

And so that’s what comes with Camber. And because of the success that we’ve seen in a short period of time, we’re looking next year to do some more online programming, but we’re [00:29:10] going to take it live. We’re going to go live with Camber and do some more convenings live. And so that’s my hope.

My hope is that we receive enough funding and support to [00:29:20] be able. To take conversations with Camber live on the road, to hit different regions. And so we are looking forward to be able to do more of that

– Many people might be intimidated to use their voice to advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion and may not do anything because they think their voice doesn’t matter. Tell us how their voice makes a difference.

Let me say this, Rick. your voice is as powerful [00:30:30] as you believe it to be. And because when you believe in something, and it moves from [00:30:40] thought to actual speech, and then speech turns into behavior, right?

You have a thought about something, and you speak up, and then [00:30:50] You say something, and you become so passionate about it, it moves you to action. So no matter to me, no matter [00:31:00] where you are, what level of power or influence you may have, your voice absolutely [00:31:10] matters. And I think people have the fear of not knowing.

What to say or how to say or not wanting to say the wrong thing is the [00:31:20] greatest hindrance to your belief system in the core of who you are. And the moment that you have doubt in your voice, then no, you shouldn’t be [00:31:30] speaking. But your voice has so much weight because you’re one person who can share a multitude of [00:31:40] words, too many to have a ripple effect.

We just have to have the courage to believe that what we’re saying is powerful enough

– How can businesses and individuals get involved with Camber?

Great [00:34:40] question. it’s super simple. you can go to our website, camberoutdoors.org. And I reach out there. you can reach out to me on LinkedIn. [00:34:50] Tiffany Smith, you can find me. Don’t worry. it’s not a ton of Tiffany Smiths,

Probably not. [00:35:00] Also, you can find us on social media @camberoutdoors as well on all platforms. You can send us a DM. You can find us there. We’ll [00:35:10] definitely reach out to myself and the team. A great group of individuals who are really inspired about change are happy to support and come alongside and be your [00:35:20] partner and all these things that you guys are doing.

Meetups, for lack of a better term, and things around that are all posted there. Yes. Yes. Things are online, on our [00:35:30] website, on social media. Also, I would definitely say we have a newsletter called The Inclusion Insider where we share, once a month, just what’s happening, and what’s going on. [00:35:40] I share a little blog every month. And also you can go on our website and just simply, hit the subscribe button.

– Tell us about your favorite outdoor activity.

Oh, Fun question. Fun question. Okay. I, for the first time ever, [00:36:00] Rick, I went horseback riding about a year or so ago.

I Fell in love with it. Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness. [00:36:10] The part that I fell in love with the most, Rick, with this is that I like to know what’s happening next. I like to feel, and so having to really release, [00:36:20] control and really trust the force in a way was the most liberating thing.

I don’t get to do that as often as I’d like, but on a day-to-day basis, I’m either, for the most part, going to probably hit the pavement with a quick job or [00:36:40] run.

– Do you have any suggestions and/or advice for folks wanting to work on diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workplace?

My advice is don’t be afraid to start where you are. A lot of times, organizations have these lofty, huge goals to [00:37:30] try to change something that has been in place for centuries, right? And I try to encourage all of our partners that it’s okay to start at [00:37:40] whatever level that you may find yourself on.

The key is to just begin. The second thing that I would say is that I wouldn’t recreate the wheel. I would identify [00:37:50] organizations or individuals that are part of this work, and I would. Find the perfect fit for you. We would love to service everyone, but we [00:38:00] possibly can’t. And so we want to partner with companies that align with us, that align with how we do this work, the way that we do this work, and that aligns with our company values.

And right. [00:38:10] And so we put together a, a consulting guide for people that are looking for different partners in that way, because we understood on the service so many, And so the other part I would say is that [00:38:20] when you do align with someone as a partner, which I think will be key is you align with someone that has proof of impact.[00:38:30]

It’s one thing to say something, and it’s one thing to dream of the work, but it’s another thing to do the work and have the results to show. Yep. [00:38:40] I’m proud to say that at Camber, we’re beyond the dream phase and into the impact phase. And so we’re happy to offer any [00:38:50] thought leadership to those who are interested.

And we’re also happy. To support you in any other organization that needs a guide as you’re vetting [00:39:00] other opportunities. Again, our impact focus is the industry. It’s not just our bottom line. So yeah. Leverage your experience.

– What is your favorite outdoor gear purchase under $100?

My water bottle, that’s good, yeah, that’s come [00:39:20] up a few times. Actually, that’s good. Yeah, like I said, my go-to is to jog. I am training, I always wanted to run a marathon, and I’m not quite committed. [00:39:30] to a full marathon, but I said I can at least start training for a 5k. So, I’m currently training for a 5k. And yeah, the water bottle right now is my go to.

– What are a couple of your favorite books?

I’m currently reading Great CEOs Are Lazy. [00:40:00] Yeah. It’s how exceptional CEOs do more in less time. And so being like such a nimble nonprofit, you don’t have to think of, [00:40:10] I have to learn from the best quick. And so I wanted to learn from successful CEOs and behaviors and patterns on their actions to be more efficient, especially [00:40:20] when we have limited resources as a nonprofit but a huge impact.

And so that’s been a great read for me because it’s not just talking about the day-to-day work, but also [00:40:30] the work-life balance if that’s even a thing. You need to be able to create and innovate in a seamless way.

– Is there anything else you want to say or ask of our listeners? 

I would say, to [00:41:30] our, to the listeners, that are on with us, just, thank you just, to those that are Camber supporters and stakeholders, we have an amazing board of directors, a board chair, [00:41:40] Reggie, has just really been just an amazing, a contribution to us.

So, thank you to everyone who has supported Camber outdoors over the years. And I will also say, [00:41:50] be on the lookout. We have a lot of exciting new things. And, as I said before, national recognition will not just change the scope of Camber, but [00:42:00] change the scope of the industry.

So stay tuned for more to come. Lots to come.

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Follow up with Tiffany: tiffany.smith@camberoutdoors.org

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