Hiring and Retention of Women in the Outdoor Industry

By: Hilary Wickes

Since its inception in 2016, the America Outdoors ‘AO Women Connect’ group has been meeting once a year to network, discuss challenges and work to find solutions to the unique issues that face women in the outdoor industry. Each year, the group grows, and women expand their network of peers. In 2019 at the America Outdoors Conference in Salt Lake City, over 70 women came together to collaborate.


Ideas for Creating an Organization Inclusive of Women

One issue the women tackled in small groups was hiring and retaining women employees in the outfitter industry. Through thoughtful discussion, the group came up with some ideas for creating a program that is inclusive for women. Here are some ideas for your organization:


1. Job Advertisement

  1. Be conscious of the visual you are using your hiring ads (and one your website and social media feeds). Include photos of women guides and staff as well as diverse guest photos.

  2. Remember- language matters, too! While you are writing your job description, think about the words you are using to describe your ideal candidate. For some ideas on how to create an inclusive job description, check out this article from Breezy.

  3. If you offer benefits or can connect employees to resources, such as childcare, make sure to mention that in the job description.

2. Hiring Process

  1. Include a female manager in your hiring process. It is important that your candidates (male and female) see a strong female presence in your company and see that there is a future for them. It may be a good idea to have more than one interviewer anyway, as each will have different takeaways from the interview.


3. Onboarding

  1. Like your hiring process, make sure your onboarding process includes interactions with both male and female managers.

  2. Consider establishing a mentorship program in your company. This can help your new female staff members see a long-term future with your company. To get started, Kin HR has gathered the steps and some tips in this helpful article about mentorship for small business.  

4. Management

  1. Role modeling- Set the example for your staff by treating all staff members with respect and by taking diversity, equity and inclusion seriously.

  2. When promoting, think about your current leadership team to make sure you include women in your management structure.

  3. Don’t encourage competition between men and women.

  4. Sometimes it may be valuable to have women-only discussions and meeting places, but make sure you have space for all to engage in conversations of inclusion and diversity.

5. Policies

  1. Have a written sexual harassment policy and make it known that it is to be taken seriously. Revisit the policy each year with your staff. Need help? Reach out to A-DASH Collaborative

6. Keep Learning (NEW IN 2022)

Here are some great resources for making your company an inclusive space for women and all employees:

Engage with us!

To connect and interact with this engaged group of women in the outdoor industry, you may request to join the "AO Women Connect" group on Facebook. 

Plan to attend that Women's Meetup at the America Outdoors Conference to engage with this welcoming community.


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