Research on inclusion and diversity
The Association of British Climbing Walls, the British Mountaineering Council, The Camping and Caravanning Club, the National Indoor Climbing Award Schemes, Mountain Training, the Outdoor Industries Association, Plas y Brenin and Ramblers agreed the commitments after conducting original research ‘Your Movement Matters’, designed to understand current participation in activities as well as the key barriers and enablers.
In the first collaborative project of its kind, the group commissioned Leeds Beckett University to undertake research into the demographics of participation in all levels of activity, from urban walking or indoor climbing to overseas mountaineering. Conducted with a sample of more than 4,700 people living in the UK, the research measured the true state of participation by different communities to help inform and shape the group’s collective approach to improving diversity. A snapshot of the findings can be viewed here.
The research indicated an encouragingly representative gender split of people who climb indoors at 50% male, 46% female and 3% other genders, with non-mountainous walking activities similarly representative at 49% male, 48% female, 2% other genders. Survey respondents who climb outdoors and who go mountaineering are still predominantly male, accounting for 58% and 57% respectively.
The survey showed that people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority heritages were more likely to walk for leisure in an urban setting (81%) than all respondents (76%) but less likely to walk in the hills (63% compared to 73%). The different age profile of this group was also noteworthy with 44% of those who walk for leisure being under the age of 34, more than double the 21% of all other respondents in this age band. This indicates a growing number of individuals whose enthusiasm to explore should be supported and championed by the wider outdoor sector and other organisations, such as the research funders, in order to sustain a lifetime of participation in walking activities.
The reports revealed the motivations of participants; an overwhelming majority of people who participate in walking, climbing and mountaineering activities recognise the positive benefit that it has on their mental health (71% of indoor climbers). Spending time in nature was also highlighted as a huge motivation (94% of walkers). When this knowledge is combined with the extensive existing research that demonstrates the physical and mental health benefits of outdoor activity, it is clear that people who feel unable to take part in these activities are being deprived not just of the activities, but of the many benefits they enable.
Survey respondents identified several barriers preventing activities in the sector from being as diverse as they could be, including a lack of representation and role models, the cost of taking part and a lack of transportation and access to facilities and environments.
Welcoming the reports, the partners will use the findings to support the development and implementation of evidence-based diversity and inclusion strategies, the impact of which will be felt across the sector. As a first step, all eight partners have committed to:
- Educating ourselves and our workforce – to gain greater insight from the lived experiences of those who are underrepresented.
- Improving the diversity of people - within all levels of our organisations and in the imagery used to promote walking, climbing and camping.
- Developing collaborative relationships – with community groups and individuals who can help us effect change and improve pathways for people to access walking, climbing and camping.
- Holding ourselves accountable - for our actions and setting targets to improve equity, diversity and inclusion.
Your Movement Matters - key findings