‘Allyship in the outdoors’ | The North Face announces controversial 'racial inclusion' discount

The North Face announces controversial 'racial inclusion' discount

Outdoor apparel brand The North Face recently introduced a controversial new customer engagement strategy, which the brand says is aimed at addressing racial inclusion in outdoor spaces.

Customers are being offered a 20% discount on online orders upon completing the "Allyship In The Outdoors" program.

The hour-long digital course, developed in partnership with organisations like Mòr Diversity, tackles subjects such as white privilege and various forms of racism, encouraging participants to reflect on the representation and inclusivity of people from ethnic minorities in outdoor activities.

It’s not been uncommon in recent times for businesses and brands to face backlash over their DE&I plans, as HR Grapevine’s Ben Broomfield recently reported. The North Face has been no stranger to this either, after the news emerged of their online - and entirely voluntary - program.

And although The Allyship In The Outdoors course is a consumer-facing course, it could well serve as a powerful example of how an employer’s brand and corporate values can significantly impact HR matters such as workplace culture, enhanced employee engagement, and ultimately, a positive shift in brand perception.

For example, recent research from CareerArc found that 96% of companies realise that their employer brand has an impact on their firm’s revenue. And studies from Cision found that workers will hold their employers to higher standards in 2024 – directly linking to employer brand.

The studies show that, much like in 2023, the candidate market this year will be characterised by an emphasis on remote work, a battle between the market being employee and employer-driven, the increased use of AI, and diversity and inclusion. And it’s the latter issue that could now define The North Face’s employer brand - and for the better, according to data.

Aon's 2022 Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Survey revealed that companies with higher levels of employee engagement are more likely to have a clearly defined DE&I strategy and cover a broader range of diversity spects in their policies.

The research found that 82% of companies with a high level of engagement had a clearly defined and implemented DE&I policy. Conversely, 54% of companies with low engagement had a more vague and broadly defined sense of what DE&I encompasses.

With its Allyship In The Outdoors program, The North Face has clearly set out its stall and defined what it believes DE&I to be all about - and thus making it clear to all customers and colleagues alike.

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Additionally, employee engagement could be boosted by the knowledge and awareness gained through programs like "Allyship In The Outdoors." Educating employees and customers alike about societal issues can lead to a more empathetic and cohesive work environment. This understanding can translate into more thoughtful interactions among employees, as well as between employees and customers, fostering a culture of respect and inclusion.

The North Face's customer discount for completing a diversity and inclusion course has the potential to be much more than a marketing strategy; it's a statement about the company's values.

Such consumer-facing diversity initiatives have far-reaching implications for HR and employee engagement, significantly contributing to a positive workplace culture. By prioritising inclusivity, companies not only enhance their brand reputation but also support a more engaged, motivated, and cohesive workforce, poised to drive forward both social change and business success.



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