Diversifying the bicycle industry

January 31, 2018

by Kimberly Kinchen, business network writer

Bikepacking trip with interns. Image courtesy of QBP

A lot of different kinds of people ride bikes, but the bike industry still has a ways to go before it fully reflects this broad mix. Quality Bicycle Products (QBP), a U.S. distributor and manufacturer based in Minnesota, is one company trying to change that.  

This year, QBP has revamped its women’s internship, which was launched two years ago. The new QBP Equity and Diversity Internship is now inviting women, people of color, Native Americans, LGBTQ+, persons with disabilities, and others with diverse backgrounds to apply and/or students with a demonstrated commitment towards advancing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Growing women in the bike industry is and will continue to be a really big focus for us. But we know that the industry’s lack of diversity goes beyond women. We’re striving to build a more welcoming QBP and bike industry,” says Amber Maier, Human Resources Manager at QBP. Diversity helps businesses become more successful because people can bring their unique experiences to problem-solving and idea generation and help attract a wider range of customers.

No bike experience is necessary to participate in this program. “Every internship position that we have posted is in a different area of our organization,” Maier says. “So our interns are going to have a great variety of work they will be doing for us this year.” Those areas could include legal, marketing, research, industrial design, IT, data analysis, distribution center, or accounting.

Internships are full-time for the duration of the program, which runs from mid-June to mid-August at the company’s Bloomington, Minnesota headquarters. Of the 12 internship positions, QBP will fill nine at the college level. They’ll fill the other three slots with high-school-age students through a partnership with STEP-UP Achieve Minneapolis.

“We really want our internship to offer meaningful work and in order to do that they need to be paid internships,” Maier says. That means ensuring the kind of experience that truly contributes to career-building. For example, some past interns were part of a team that designed frames and handlebars that are about to go into production. “It really sets those students up for success in their field and in their careers, so we want work that they can put into their portfolio and their resume.” The company builds on this program by keeping in touch with interns and sharing news of job openings and other industry opportunities.

“At QBP we strongly believe in the bicycle as a vehicle for transformation for all people and all communities,” Maier says. “We believe that in order for us to do this we need our staff to reflect the market we want the cycling industry to become.”

Applications are accepted through March 8.

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