Salt Lake City – Today, Jerry Stritzke, CEO and President of REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), was joined by 13 industry CEOs who signed a pledge to accelerate women’s leadership in their companies. In addition to the pledge, developed by the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC), Stritzke announced a major initiative to spark innovation and mentor women entrepreneurs, supported by a $1.5 million grant.
CEOs who have already signed the pledge lead organizations including Active Interest Media, Advanced Sports–Fuji Bikes, American Alpine Club, Backcountry, Burton Snowboards, CamelBak, The North Face, NPD Group, Outdoor Research, Patagonia, REI, SmartWool, W.L. Gore & Associates, and Wolverine Worldwide.
“Change starts at the top, and coming together like we have is a testament to the strength of our shared values. I encourage other leaders in our industry to join in this commitment,” said Stritzke. “This work will change the nature of innovation and leadership in our industry, which is a big part of the U.S. economy, supporting 6.1 million jobs.”
“We’re thrilled that these companies are making this a visible priority,” said Deanne Buck, Executive Director of the OIWC. “We’ll be stronger and more innovative as an industry if we build an environment where great ideas born from a diversity of experiences thrive.”
The REI Foundation is awarding the OIWC a Mary Anderson Legacy Grant of $1.5 million to fund this effort. Mary and Lloyd Anderson co-founded REI in 1938. As one of REI’s first leaders, Mary helped frame what today is the country’s largest outdoor consumer co-op and a community of more than 5 million active members. The grant is a catalyst to unleash the talent of women and spur ideas and will be used in three ways:
- Building programs and services for the industry—OIWC will provide the industry with valuable research, tools, best practices, and resources to better serve women leaders.
- Offering match funding—REI will match up to $500,000 for new companies who join OIWC’s powerful member network or elevate their level of membership.
- Creating new opportunities for entrepreneurial women—Leaders of the outdoor industry are launching a new initiative to jumpstart creativity and entrepreneurism among women. Participants will have an opportunity to pitch ideas in live advisory sessions with senior industry executives twice annually. Ideas put forward can be for new products or services - or even how to change the industry. This initiative goes hand in hand with a robust mentoring program that will be run in parallel.
“Companies with more women leaders also enjoy strong financial performance,” adds Buck. “One of the biggest challenges facing outdoor companies is competition for high-quality talent. This grant will give us the momentum we need to make the outdoor industry the employer of choice for women.”
Founded in 1996, the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition is the only national organization dedicated to workplace diversity and inclusion by expanding opportunities for women and companies in the outdoor, snow, run, and bike industries. To learn more about the OIWC CEO pledge, visit oiwc.org/pledge.
REI is a $2 billion national multichannel retail co-op headquartered outside of Seattle. With more than 5 million active members, REI serves the needs of outdoor adventurers through innovative, quality products; inspiring classes and trips; and integrated customer service that allows shoppers to buy great gear and clothing in any way they want. REI has 138 stores in 33 states and REI.com and REI.com/outlet. Anyone may shop with REI, while members pay a one-time $20 fee to receive a share in the co-op’s profits through an annual member refund based on patronage. Membership in the co-op also includes special promotions and discounts on REI Adventures trips and REI Outdoor School classes.
About The REI Foundation
The REI Foundation was founded and supported by REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) in 1993. The Foundation's mission is to help ensure that tomorrow's outdoor enthusiasts and conservation stewards reflect the diversity of America. The REI Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.