Our Commitment to Inclusion

Dear Explorer Chicks,

I am about to get really real with you, so settle in. This is a very long, honest, heartfelt post.

We did not post to social media black boxes or statements of solidarity riddled with hashtags on Tuesday. Instead, a very emotional discussion ensued that is launching a fundamental shift in how we use and define our company’s power.

I was called upon by members of my team to issue a statement to support the Black Lives Matter movement and to stand in solidarity.

I refused.

*Keep reading. I said I was getting really real*

Although I applauded their individual efforts and passion, as CEO I have to take a step back to view our actions and words from the outside in. Yes, we are non-traditional small company with a close knit team of passionate women who really care about what we do, but we are still a company that is in business for profits.

When the #MeToo movement happened and the popularity of women’s travel increased, every big travel operator simply slapped “Women’s” on high performing trips and called it a day. My requests for meetings at travel conferences skyrocketed because we are a women’s travel company. Every supplier I sat down with told me, “We want to get into the women’s travel market.” Then they proceeded to show me some terrible women’s, half-cracked travel product.

When Covid hit, we all saw the commercials, “We’re in this together” as companies low key sold products. Every year during Pride month, the flags and flyers make a short lived appearance before returning to storage to collect dust for the next 11 months. With social media, it’s even more prolific as people and companies jump on every issue, movement, and big moment of the time. Companies that do not have a history or mission of supporting these issues, but all of a sudden BAM  – We care, next!

You can push the messaging, you can black out your Instagram photo, you can use the hashtags. But what the hell are you going to do about it?

I refused to issue another empty cause marketing promise. That’s not good enough. You are too smart and you deserve better. If we’re going to talk the talk, then we must walk the walk.

We had to give our company a hard, honest look which spiraled into days of discussions and reflection.

Who is Explorer Chick? How do we impact our community? What purpose do we serve? How do we effect change now? How can we do better without alienating our established tribe of Explorer Chicks?

Some of our most frequently asked Explorer Chick questions and concerns popped up: Women wonder if they’re too old, if they are fit enough, if our trips turn catty, if they’ll be able to make new friends as a solo traveler.

These concerns can stem from women’s issues. Women have been programmed by society to harbor feelings of self-doubt. We are brought up to believe we are not good enough unless we look a certain way, act a certain way, etc – all in an effort to attract the right mate and/or be accepted by society. Then there’s the media…

We can get lost in forever chasing perfection while crippling from lack of self-worth until one day we get WOKE THE HELL UP! And we can say, “I am good enough.”

*I applaud anyone who has always had the confidence to know that she is enough. Hell, yes. But, that’s not true for everyone – myself included. Insert overcoming self-doubt and low self-esteem.*

And I hear these stories from our Explorer Chicks all the damn time. They seek us out because they feel safe with us to discover that side of themselves. To be surrounded by women who are there for them. Who are showing up, “Like HELL YES SISTER! Rip that dang shirt off on that mountain summit!”

THIS IS THE POWER OF EXPLORER CHICK.

When women join our email newsletter, they automatically receive an email where I ask them to reply with why they joined Explorer Chick.

The stories are ones of growth, of courage, of taking back their lives, of wanting to empower themselves with new skills, of finding themselves again, of not just being Mom for a short time, of connecting to new friends, and of actually LIVING.

THIS IS THE POWER OF EXPLORER CHICK.

As women we are raised to believe the woods are scary places. That there are serial killers and rapists hiding behind every tree ready to pounce. This gets shoved down our throats on TV and Lifetime Movie specials. (Okay, and real life serial killers…). Just think about crime shows – Who are the victims and where are they victimized?

When I first started trail running in the woods – I was terrified. I was terrified my first pre-dawn solo hike. I was terrified on my first solo road trip. BECAUSE I WAS A WOMAN AND THAT WAS WHAT I WAS BROUGHT UP TO BELIEVE.

We have ALL had that experience when hiking solo in the woods where another party shows concern that we’re hiking alone. (Honestly, thank you for checking on us) But, this does not happen to men.

The other story I hear often is that women usually take a back seat to their husbands/fathers/Miscellaneous male figure in their life when in the outdoors.

Through our shared outdoor experiences and education by our guides, women take the lead. They are the ones in charge without the crutch of man-splaining. We’re empowering women with knowledge so they can confidently pursue other outdoor endeavors. So the outdoors becomes a space for freedom, and not anxiety.

THIS IS THE POWER OF EXPLORER CHICK.

Then the real magic happens. These personal transformations positively echo out to other areas of their lives. And a strong, confident woman with a gang of strong, confident women behind her IS A FORCE.

Being a woman unites every single Explorer Chick who travels with us. And being a woman brings about our own uniquely female life experiences, obstacles, and struggles which contributes to our personal story. (Motherhood, sexism, rape, domestic abuse, unplanned pregnancy, gender roles, societal expectations, hot flashes, empty nesting, divorce, leaving an embarrassing red spot on a white chair during a company dinner, etc). *I realize some of these apply to males as well*

Our company not only provides uncommon travel experiences, but also space for stories and womanly wisdom to be shared on the trails, on the bus, or over dinner. We grow because of each other. This is our power.

However, we recognize that most of our travelers are white as that is who currently travels with us and this reflects in our marketing. Our community as it is now, lacks diversity which can be unwelcoming. And we have recognized that we’re not doing enough to proactively invite diversity into our Tribe of women. A bigger effort must be made on our part to be more inviting to the BIPOC community and to support ALL Women.

We are saddened that it took the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black Americans before them to spur us into action and reflection. Their lives mattered. It shouldn’t take the silencing of so many for us to to take formative action to shift our brand’s voice.

We are committed to amplifying the voices of ALL women and enriching our community through diversity. To harness our unique power – empowering women through shared outdoor adventures – for the benefit of ALL women. We pledge to do the work. To know better, and to do better. (Our team has already formed an Inclusion committee to share resources and educations tools. We are driven to be better and to press into the discomfort).

Our first outward proactive step in our commitment is #WomenWeLoveWednesday on our social media accounts in the coming weeks. We are excited to showcase and amplify women’s businesses, blogs, social media accounts, and stories. We would love recommendations from our Explorer Chick community, especially BIPOC-owned, to help us to proactively invite diversity into our Explorer Chick Tribe.

Please send us an email to share your resources or questions.

info@explorerchick.com

Thank you for your continued support and encouraging us to be better.

Nicki Bruckmann

Explorer Chick CEO and Founder

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