Last month, we shared with you our reflections on racism, equity and inclusion and made a commitment to provide monthly updates on our work. In the past month, we’ve spent more time learning, started our social justice book club, and completed a survey of our chapter leadership. 


Staff and chapter leaders have been sharing resources such as trainings, webinars, books, and more to support each other in learning more about racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Along the way, we’ve been discussing how to use what we’re learning to shape our core mission work. Here are some of the resources we’ve found particularly helpful in the past month:

Book Club

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo has been a great resource to learn from. Seventeen of our chapter leaders are participating in the book club. We are meeting every two weeks and working slowly through the book to allow for in-depth conversations. During our first meeting, we discussed our goals for participation and what we need to establish a safe space for learning. Last week, we examined the privilege that our volunteers and staff have and how that impacts our work, perceptions about our organization, and creates blindspots. We also strategized how to make our network more inclusive and welcoming, drawing from what we’re learning in Ijeoma’s book. 

Chapter Leader Survey

Last month we developed a racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion survey for our Chapter leaders. Learning about the current demographics of our chapter leadership will help us better understand our network and set baselines for our work. We also wanted to understand our network’s knowledge about social justice issues, their desire to learn more, and their ideas of how to address social justice issues through Surfrider’s mission-driven work. 

The survey was sent to our Executive Committee members and Program Leads. Overall, we had a 62% response rate, with 91% of elected Executive Committee members responding. 

Chapter Leadership Demographics:

  • Age: Our Chapter Leaders age range from 25-74, and nearly half (48%) are under 45 years old 
  • Ethnicity: 89% Caucasian, 4% Latinx, 4% Native American, 4% Asian American
  • Education: More than 80% college educated and 40% have advanced degrees
  • Gender: 67% female, 30% male, 3% genderqueer
  • Average Household Income: $59,999.60 per year
  • Language: Three chapter leaders speak Spanish at a conversational level or better, two speak Portuguese, and one speaks German.

Knowledge and training on racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion:

  • Training on racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion: 19% have never had a training while 50% have had 1-4 trainings. 19% have had more than 15 trainings. 
  • Almost all of our leaders want more training (92%) 
  • 42% of volunteers ranked themselves as moderately knowledgeable about racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion while 42% ranked themselves as very or extremely knowledgeable.
  • The top three needs identified for our leaders to become more active in advancing racial equity are…
    • Having more information so they knew what to do
    • Receiving training
    • Having more time
  • 89% of leaders feel it’s very or extremely important to examine and discuss impacts of racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion on Surfrider’s work.
  • 88% feel it is very or extremely important for Surfrider Oregon to develop a plan to address racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Baseline for chapter work on racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion:

  • 54% of chapters rarely or never consider underrepresented or people of color’s interest in their programs or campaigns
  • 36% of leaders feel Black, indigenous  and people of color are not at all represented in their chapter while 52% feel Black, indigenous, and people of color are slightly represented

Ideas for moving forward:

  • Continue learning
  • Ask questions
  • Build meaningful relationships with new partners
  • Create and inclusive environment at meetings, events and in our volunteer opportunities
  • “I think it needs to start with looking at the current Surfrider culture and asking why BIPOC are not currently part of the chapter’s efforts. The chapter should build more relationships and look to support more BIPOC organizations but it needs to be genuine and not with the notion of wanting to check a box.”
  • “Inviting BIPOC people to come speak at our events, asking and listening to BIPOC people what they’d need to see from our chapters for them to have a desire to be a part of our team.”
  • We (the white people) need to be the ones doing the work, educating ourselves and having conversations with each other. We should ask ourselves why is it that we are a predominately white organization? Why might this space not feel welcoming to BIPOC communities? And understand those answers ourselves as opposed to just looking to BIPOC people to give us the answers.”
  • “Continue the work and build lasting and meaningful relationships. Don’t let this die down when the news cycle moves onto something else. We need to do this work and it needs to continue to be a priority.”

Next Steps

As a network, we still have a lot of learning to do which we will do through listening, attending trainings, and reading (and discussing in our Book Club). Throughout our process to become more educated and aware, we will continue brainstorming ideas to become more inclusive and to better address racism, diversity, and equity. We will also discuss and further evaluate the survey results with our Chapter leaders.

Some steps our chapters are talking about currently:

  • Translating materials
  • Offering translation for chapter meetings
  • Inviting diverse speakers for events
  • Amplifying Black, Indigenous and People of Colors’ voices
  • Identifying partners and thinking about how to develop meaningful relationships
  • Evaluating where and when chapter meetings are held

We will also continue with our monthly updates on these efforts. If you would like to get involved, please reach out to us.