Just last month 14 top outdoor industry CEOs signed a pledge to promote women’s leadership in their companies. Women (and men and everyone in between) all across the country let out a collective sigh of relief.
I’ve written before about the lack of female leaders in the industry (only between 10% and 15% of all companies in the Outdoor Industry Association have female CEOs while 46% of all outdoor participants are women). This pledge is a truly exciting leap forward.
The pledge was developed by the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC) to “build an environment where great ideas born from a diversity of experiences,” as Deanne Buck, Executive Director of the OIWC stated it.
Along with the pledge, Jerry Stritzke, CEO and president of REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) announced that the REI Foundation is awarding the OIWC a Mary Anderson Legacy Grant of a whopping $1.5 million. That injection of cold hard cash will be used to support women in leadership in three ways:
- Providing invaluable research, tools, best practices, and resources to serve women in leadership positions.
- Offering match funding (up to $500,000) for new companies who join OIWC’s member network or up their membership level.
- Creating opportunities for entrepreneurs — allowing women to pitch ideas in advisory sessions with senior industry execs twice a year. This along with the mentoring program OIWC already supports will help support creativity in the industry.
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.
–Jerry Stritzke, REI
So who are these companies? I’d like to give them a moment in the spotlight:
- Active Interest Media
- Advanced Sports-Fuji Bikes
- American Alpine Club
- Burton Snowboards
- The North Face
- NPD Group
- Outdoor Research
- W.L. Gore & Associates
- Wolverine Worldwide
Hell yes Outdoor Industry! Let’s keep this momentum going forward and help show the rest of the country what women in positions of power can bring to the working world!