Last week CrossFit HQ announced the 10 inaugural members of their brand new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council. It’s the latest step in the organisation’s efforts to make CrossFit a safer and more accessible environment for marginalised communities, and is one of several steps CrossFit has made in recent months to turn their values into action.
The Inaugural CrossFit DEI Council
Back in November 2020, CrossFit HQ announced it was accepting applications from community members to be part of their new DEI Council. While CrossFit was only accepting applicants from within the United States, they acknowledged that DEI looks different all around the world, and emphasise that their commitment is global — which can be seen in other initiatives they have introduced in the last year.
The 10 council members chosen come from all over the CrossFit community, and include members from a variety of different backgrounds. The inaugural members selected are:
- Casey Jordan, Coach at UAVE CrossFit
- Jennifer Hunter-Marshall, Co-owner/Co-head coach of CrossFit Garden City, Games athlete
- Wylie Belasik, Owner, Subversus Fitness; Founder, UliftU
- Chandler Smith, CrossFit Games athlete (2019, 2020)
- Athena Perez, Owner, Scaled Nation CrossFit
- Dillon King, Owner, Flambeaux Fit
- Amy West, CrossFit Health and CrossFit Games Medical Team
- Shaun Ward, Member, Hornet’s Nest CrossFit
- Erin Comollo, Trainer, CrossFit Stealth
- Mason C. Alberts, Member, CrossFit NCR
The primary purpose of the council is to act as a sounding board to strengthen DEI efforts, review any updates and give feedback to leadership. They will work to ensure policies and updates across the CrossFit landscape are inclusive, effective and impactful. The wider CrossFit community can also input their own thoughts, ideas and concerns regarding DEI to the Council using the brand new email address.
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The formation of the DEI Council is one of several actions the company has implemented following the damaging actions of former CrossFit owner and founder Greg Glassman, alongside the George Floyd and BLM protests last May. The commitment to challenging the company’s blindspots is something now-CEO Eric Roza is very passionate about. He highlighted the need for further diversity, inclusion and equity development during his first Town Hall since being promoted to the position;
“We see people’s common humanity, and we’re not going to discriminate against people, and we’re going to affirmatively reach out and make sure people feel welcome, and we’re conscious also that we’re not starting from a blank slate.”
The formation of the DEI Council isn’t the first affirmative step CrossFit has made to implement change. Since June, the organisation has hired Trish Gerliz as VP of Culture & Inclusion, who will be dedicated to guiding the company’s DEI efforts. Alongside this, CrossFit is diversifying its leadership team, and establishing an independent board of directors which will include more women and people of colour.
Investing in the Future
CrossFit has also put considerable money towards its DEI initiatives, which is always a good indicator of how serious a company is in their commitment to affirmative action. An example of this is a $7 million endowment from Roza and other investors for the CrossFit Foundation to advance public health in underserved communities.
Affiliate fees are also being examined, and will better reflect a country’s economy and the independent circumstances of each gym’s location.
A big part of Roza’s DEI strategy is how to help CrossFit inspire underrepresented communities to get involved with the sport, and one of the ways he’s doing this is through a Scholarship Program which will partner with local youth organisations to give no-cost L1 training in underserved communities.
Gary Gaines has also been brought on as the new General Manager of International. His job will be to expand focus beyond the United States.
CrossFit HQ has acknowledged that the road to becoming an inclusive, diverse and equitable space is a hard one, but the commitment to change demonstrated so far is hugely encouraging. For DEI council member and Games Athlete Chandler Smith, changes in the CrossFit box can further impact the wider community around us;
“By bringing these discussions into the space, we’re turning the space into a place that can, in turn, impact outside of the four walls of a CrossFit box, because people have an understanding that these issues exist and that they have the ability, in some capacity, to help fix these problems.”