Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center, in partnership with Futures Without Violence, will host a webinar titled, “Promoting Employee Wellness and Safety: Addressing the Impacts of Gender-Based Violence and Harassment in the Outdoor Industry” on March 4.

The webinar is part of a series of bystander intervention trainings that Cora Philips, prevention coordinator at Seekhaven, offers to employees and employers in the Moab area. Every training she does, including this one, focuses on preventing harassment and violence before it has a chance to occur.

The webinar will offer training for employees of the outdoor industry, though Philips hopes anyone interested will attend. Yoo-Jin Kang, a senior training and technical assistance specialist at Futures Without Violence, will speak at the webinar, along with Sarah Gonzalez Bocinski, associate director at Futures Without Violence, and Philips.

The speakers will go over how to recognize gender-based violence and harassment, how it impacts survivors who have experienced it and how it shows up in the outdoor recreation and tourism industry, Kang said. They’ll also discuss what people can do to prevent harassment.

“The outdoor recreation and tourism industry hits all the checkboxes for being at risk of harassment and violence in the workplace,” Philips said. “You can’t access HR when you’re in the middle of Cataract Canyon.”

She referred to a risk factor chart created by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: risks of a hostile workplace include having a homogenous and young workforce with a historic lack of diversity, workplaces with significant power disparities, workplaces that rely on client satisfaction, isolated workplaces and workplaces that tolerate or encourage alcohol consumption.

“[This webinar] is important because this is an industry that we need to pay more attention to,” Kang said. “It’s something that many people who are in the industry know about, but not as much people outside the industry. It’s important for us to start expanding that reach.”

In 2016, sexual harassment in the outdoor industry came to the forefront following an investigation by the Department of the Interior into National Park Service employees who worked in Grand Canyon National Park’s river district. The DOI investigated sexual harassment allegations of 13 employees and identified 22 other individuals who reported sexual harassment, and eventually found “evidence of a long-term pattern of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.”

In 2018, Outside Magazine released a survey to assess readers’ experiences with sexual harassment in outdoor recreation and outdoor industry jobs; of 4,193 people who responded, 70% said they had been harassed. That same year, a survey done for the #SafeOutside initiative found that in the rock climbing community, 47% of women and 16% of men reported being harassed while in a climbing setting.

In 2019, Camber Outdoors, a company that provides workplace trainings for the outdoor industry, found in a survey that only 31% of women who responded believed reported harassment would be handled appropriately.

“I think that sometimes there can be a lot of barriers to having conversations surrounding sexual harassment and violence in the workplace,” Philips said. “Having somebody else come in and facilitate that conversation can be really huge, and you’re taking out the power dynamic in those conversations.”

The webinar will give people the knowledge necessary to stop unwanted behavior, Philips said.

“I don’t think any workplace is immune to these issues,” she said. “If we can bring more awareness to the topic, we can move forward with that information in a constructive and productive manner.”

“I would really love for anyone who’s interested or has participated at all in outdoor recreation to come to this, because chances are, even if you haven’t experienced harassment, you’ve probably seen something,” Kang said. “You’ll learn something from this training that applies to your life or your workplace.”

The webinar is free to attend, and will occur at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 4 via Zoom. Information on how to register and access the webinar can be found on Seekhaven’s Facebook page.

What: Promoting Employee Wellness and Safety: Addressing the Impacts of Violence and Harassment 

When: Friday, March 4 at 2 p.m.

Where: Online, access more information via Seekhaven’s Facebook page