This same concept applies inside the company, where we value individuality and encourage our colleagues to be themselves.
While these beliefs are inherent in our organization, we must acknowledge that the outdoor industry and outdoor recreation has not traditionally been accessible or readily available to everyone, especially people of color. As a 109-year-old company at the center of the outdoor retail industry, we have a responsibility to use our voice, our platform, and our resources to help eradicate racial injustice, and we know we can and should strive to address and solve the inequities that continue to persist within our society.
We also know that we have more work to do inside our own organization. Together, with our employees, we are working to make L.L.Bean a place of work that lives up to our value of individuality and offers more space for our colleagues to bring their whole selves to work -- because we know the uniqueness of each person makes the whole better.
In 2020, we pledged to advance our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, making DEI one of our strategic corporate goals. We also enhanced current DEI programming, audited our business practices and invested in not-for-profit organizations at the forefront of advancing racial equity and workplace diversity. Every day, we continue on this course of learning, and believe it is important to give insight into this crucial work.
Leadership is the most important avenue to culture change. Our DEI Steering Committee is key to championing internal and external DEI initiatives across the business.
- The L.L.Bean DEI Steering Committee , which represents voices of employees from across the company including human resources, manufacturing, retail, marketing and operations, was expanded to assess and inform our ongoing efforts.
Last July, we made a public commitment to having the tough and necessary conversations about race internally. We also provided resources and ongoing training to our entire workforce.
- In July 2020, our Executive Leadership team led the first-ever company-wide Town Hall with employees from corporate headquarters, retail stores, manufacturing and distribution to discuss our company’s role, responsibility and efforts in this space. It set the tone for how we intend to engage with our employees moving forward, creating an open forum to discuss challenging topics and a safe environment to hear constructive feedback.
- Listening sessions and discussion groups were rolled out for employees in 2020 with topics including racism in the outdoors, unconscious bias and inclusive leadership. These events have continued in 2021 and will continue in the years to come.
- More than 3,600 of our employees have participated in a workshop focused on customer/peer interactions, personal development and awareness building – ensuring they are able to connect more deeply with co-workers about DEI topics and gain essential foundational knowledge.
- As part of our ongoing education efforts, an internal DEI information hub is now available to all employees to provide resources, discussion guides, volunteer opportunities as well as highlight DEI efforts across the company.
In collaboration with business and government leaders in the Outdoor Industry and the State of Maine, we committed to attracting, recruiting, and serving people of color.
- Since last summer, we have enhanced our recruitment of diverse candidates including setting a goal to recruit 50% of our 2021 interns from underrepresented groups, and we are actively working with other Maine-based corporations to attract more diverse candidates to the state.
- We have also committed to working with freelance talent and external agencies led by or inclusive of under-represented groups specifically BIPOC, women and LGBTQ+.
Through Outdoor Access we want to help as many people as possible experience the restorative power of the outdoors.
- In addition to working with organizations such as Camber Outdoors and the National Urban League, we have partnered with the Portland Chamber of Commerce to help initiate and sign the Standing in Solidarity Pledge – promoting racial and social justice across businesses in Maine.
- Finally, leveraging the L.L.Bean Community Fund and Outdoor Access Fund, we’ve invested $6 million in a broad range of organizations and initiatives that support outdoor access and community support for all.
- Boys and Girls Club of America
- Outdoor Industry Association – Thrive Outside Community
- The Trust for Public Land
- The Ecology School
- Cambodian Community Association of Maine
- Unified Asian Communities
- EqualityMaine Foundation
- Out There Adventures
- Camber Outdoors
- National Urban League
- National Park Foundation
Until all of our employees, customers, influencers and content creators are able to safely experience the value of time spent outside, we will continue to amplify broader perspectives through our social channels, marketing and products.
- We are leveraging our L.L.Bean social media channels to amplify diverse voices and perspectives about the importance of time outside as well as equal outdoor access.
- Our marketing organization has committed to expanding product and imagery focus to include more diverse body types and shifting imagery to include more underrepresented groups. During Pride Month 2021, we’ll celebrate our LGBTQ+ employees and customers with a special product collection and dedicated customer communication during the month of June.
We recognize this is just the start and we have much more work to do. We are evaluating further changes and creating space to listen and talk with one another, all while remaining steadfast in our focus: to become the leading outdoor brand for everyone – both inside and out.