REI launched a comprehensive effort to advance gender equity in the outdoors

  • Long-range effort will advance gender equity outdoors
  • Women will be front and center in REI storytelling for rest of 2017
  • $1M will support nonprofits that create opportunities for women in the outdoors

SEATTLE, 2017-Apr-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Outdoor co-op REI today (03.30.2017) launched a comprehensive effort to advance gender equity in the outdoors, encouraging millions of its members to embrace the outdoors as “the world’s largest level playing field.” From gear to experiences and from nonprofit partnerships to powerful women-first storytelling, Force of Nature aims to ensure that women are just as inspired and equipped as men to embrace life outside. Force of Nature features four components: a comprehensive effort to change the male-dominated imagery of people in the outdoors; a $1 million commitment in 2017 to support nonprofits that create opportunities for women in the outdoors; a stepped-up effort to develop and offer high-quality technical gear and apparel for women; and the launch of over 1,000 events designed for women, beginning May 6.

Force of Nature is a public-facing effort that builds on nearly eight decades of REI work to create more access to the outdoors for women. The co-op has a balanced leadership team. Women hold more than 40 percent of senior leadership roles, including the current chief financial officer, chief information officer, and the heads of human resources, merchandising and strategy. One third of the REI board of directors are women.

Current CEO Jerry Stritzke, who succeeded previous CEO Sally Jewell, has publicly led the effort to advance women’s leadership across the outdoor industry. One of his first acts as CEO was to launch a five-year, $1.5 million effort with Camber Outdoors that sparked women’s innovation and leadership in the outdoor industry.

REI board chair, Cheryl Scott, said:

“The leaders of REI have been pushing to change the way things are done in the outdoor industry since I got on the board 12 years ago. This moment makes me proud to serve REI because it’s not about putting women above men – it’s about creating equal opportunity and levelling-up in areas where there are still obvious gaps. I hope millions of REI members will embrace this because more balance outdoors means our kids, our families and our society will benefit.”

REI president and CEO, Jerry Stritzke, said:

“At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived for all. That means we support equality from the backcountry to the boardroom. As a man and a CEO, I believe it is important for every leader in an organization, regardless of gender, to champion equality and we are doing the hard work here at REI to make that happen. This isn’t about elevating one group above another or pivoting REI to serve one gender over another. This is about ensuring women are just as inspired and equipped as men to embrace life outside. Everyone should expect to get the same level of expert service, gear and experiences, and we need to get better as an industry at doing that.”

REI senior vice president of merchandising and board chair of Camber Outdoors, Susan Viscon, said:

“Strong women leaders have helped REI thrive since 1938. Force of Nature is rooted in that proud heritage. We’re taking an even harder run at ensuring women have access to the same high-end gear men do, which I’m particularly proud of. That’s been a consistent part of my mission here at the co-op ever since I joined 20 years ago, and it’s inspiring to see how our vendor partners have stepped up.”

Today, REI also published a national study commissioned to better understand the role the outdoors plays in women’s lives and how the outdoors is perceived today. The study revealed that 7 out of 10 women believe that women are under more pressure to conform than men, and that they also view the outdoors as an antidote to that pressure. Additionally, the study found that more than 85 percent of women see the outdoors as key to better physical and mental health, and overall well-being, and 73 percent say they would like to spend more time outdoors.

Changing the Male-Dominated Imagery of People Outdoors
The co-op has committed to putting women first and foremost in all of its storytelling for the remainder of 2017. The effort will “take over” REI’s digital marketing, social media content and media partnerships, and storytelling across member communications, REI Adventures, Outdoor School, REI Adventure Projects and internal communications. REI will host a film festival this fall focused on women in the outdoors, and partnered with Outside magazine to help them create their first ever all-women’s issue, due on newsstands April 11.

$1M to Support Community Organizations that Create Opportunities for Women Outdoors
As part of its annual commitment to create access to the outdoors for all, the co-op will invest over $1 million in community organizations that create more opportunities for women and girls to get outside in 2017. Roughly $500,000 will support organizations such as Camber Outdoors, GirlTrek and the YMCA’s BOLD/GOLD initiative. REI also unveiled a new $500,000 fund, available through an open call submission process, for additional organizations that create opportunity for women and girls in the outdoors. Up to $300,000 of this fund will be fueled by a custom-designed bandana, an artist collaborative T-shirt and member-exclusive REI Flash pack.

Outfitting Women for Outdoor Adventure
REI will continue to work with its partners to elevate and invest in companies that are creating the world’s best outdoor gear for women. For decades, REI has pushed the outdoor industry to put the “pink-it-and-shrink-it” philosophy aside and offer high performance women-specific outdoor gear. Women-specific product has improved dramatically, but in certain product categories, there remains a gap between the quality of high end men’s and women’s gear available. Several brands have stepped up as partners with an increased focus on world class women’s gear, particularly in women-specific fit and assortment, including Osprey, GHOST, Oiselle, Arc’teryx, Terry, Oboz, Darn Tough, Outdoor Research and prAna.

Over 1,000 Events Designed to Get Women Outside
Beginning today, REI opened registration to hundreds of REI Outdoor School classes and experiences across the country designed for women. On May 6, the co-op will offer a full day of Force of Nature experiences and programs hosted by its Outdoor School’s expert instructors and community partners. These events will continue throughout the summer, with more than 1,000 events, many of them happening weekly on “Force Wednesdays” in select markets.

The co-op will also host three REI Outessa retreats at breathtaking mountain settings. These immersive, three-day outdoor adventures enable women to find their outdoor community, do what they love and try something new in the country’s most beautiful outdoor playgrounds. Retreats are scheduled at Kirkwood Mountain Resort in California from July 14-16, Mt. Hood in Oregon from August 18-20 and Waterville Valley Resort in New Hampshire from September 22-24.

REI Adventures has also launched a collection of 19 Women’s Adventures in Africa, Europe, Latin America, New Zealand and North America. These extraordinary journeys are designed specifically for all-women groups and led by female guides.

About REI
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 16 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 147 stores in 36 states. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.comREI.com/REI-Garage or the free REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs 170 custom-designed itineraries on every continent. REI’s Outdoor School is run by professionally-trained, expert-instructors who teach beginner- to advanced-level courses about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to–and steward–the outdoor places that inspire us.

Contact:

REI Public Affairs
(253) 395-5958
prrequests@rei.com

Source: REI

#OptOutside: REI to close its doors on Black Friday to encourage people embrace the outdoors and create new holiday tradition

  • Outdoor co-op will shut all 149 of its doors on Black Friday, process no online sales and pay all 12,287 employees to take the day off and head outside instead
  • This year, more than 275 national and local organizations form movement to invite millions of people to participate
  • New outdoor activity finder launched at REI.com/opt-outside to help people reconnect with family and friends this holiday season and declare support

SEATTLE, 2016-Oct-25 — /EPR Retail News/ — REI, the $2.4 billion outdoor co-op, has announced that it will close its doors once more this Black Friday. Stepping up its effort to create a cultural counterweight to Black Friday, REI says that it is giving #OptOutside to the outdoor community to lift up and celebrate the people who dedicate their lives to the outdoors. A vast network of organizations has united already to mobilize millions more to embrace the outdoors and create a new holiday tradition for all Americans.

“This year, REI will shut down on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday because fundamentally we believe that being outside makes us our best selves – healthier and happier, physically and mentally. But as a nation we’re still spending over 90 percent of our lives indoors and it’s a trend we need to tackle,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. “I love that there is a community of people in this country who dedicate their lives to that mission, so together, we are asking America “Will you go out with us?”

REI is putting power in the hands of more than 6 million co-op members and lovers of the outdoors, asking every individual to invite someone else to choose the outdoors over fighting it out in the aisles. REI.com/opt-outside will serve as the hub to get involved, declare support, invite others to join the movement or simply find a place to play outdoors. Visitors can upload photos, share through social media, discover thousands of trails and parks nearby or get connected with non-profits that steward the outdoors.

REI gives 70 percent of its profits back to the outdoor community annually and has united more than 275 non-profit, government and corporate partners to inspire millions of people to hit the trails, parks and waterways on November 25. Details on the partners and stories of their contributions can be read on the Co-op Journal at http://blog.rei.com/news/optoutside-will-you-go-out-with-us/.

Stritzke continued, “The moment we announced our decision last year, people who build their lives around the outdoors really embraced the idea of reclaiming Black Friday. It took on a life of its own and became about much more than REI. #OptOutside should be a platform for the nonprofits and public servants who are on the front lines of the outdoor community. They’re the ones who make the outdoors accessible for everyone. That’s why, from today onward, we’re going to lift them up as the official spokespeople for #OptOutside.”

During #OptOutside, experts from the outdoor community will share perspectives on topics including the power of nature to heal, the value of childhood play outdoors, the value of nurturing and conserving our public lands and the increasing need for diversity in the outdoors. Viewpoints will be published by the co-op on Co-op Journal and promoted by REI through social media in an effort to explore the idea that a life outdoors is a life well lived.

FOR MEDIA: B-Roll and photo assets are available in the REI Newsroom.

Appendix: This year, at launch, more than 275 organizations are already involved. Many more are expected to join by Black Friday.

Nonprofits and government agencies that steward the outdoors are at the heart of this effort. Organizations representing thousands of local chapters across the country have already joined #OptOutside:

  • Diversity In The Outdoors: Six nonprofits focused on increasing diversity in the outdoors will be hosting events all across the country. Our partners in this effort are 52 Hike Challenge, Black Girls Run, Camber Outdoors, Girl Trek, Natural Leaders Network and Outdoor Afro.
  • Local Nonprofit Impact: Local trails and outdoors advocacy groups, including Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Buckeye Trails Association, the Mississippi Park Connection and others will lead events on Black Friday to get people into the outdoors.
  • The National Parks Service is spreading the #OptOutside message to all park employees and The National Park Foundation, with the Parks’ friends groups.
  • More Joining Every Day: Dozens of other major nonprofits have joined with their own unique expression of #OptOutside. For example, the Trust for Public Land will a host pre-Black Friday event at a local San Francisco park the week before Thanksgiving to raise awareness, which several other groups have discussed doing. And The Sierra Club will help amplify #OptOutside by leveraging its social media and digital channels, which reach its 2.4 million members and supporters engaged in 63 chapters across the country.

Companies with a genuine passion for the outdoors have joined us:

  • Subaru of America. Subaru of America will be bringing together two of its drivers’ passions, the outdoors and pets, and inviting pet lovers everywhere to #OptOutside with their four-legged friends on Black Friday. To help those dogs who need to #OptOutside the most, Subaru of America will be providing a fleet of vehicles and drivers in New York City to take shelter dogs out of their cages and into nature for the day. Subaru of America will also be offering pet parents in NYC, and their dogs, a free shuttle ride away from all the concrete and into the great outdoors. Subaru of America retailers will remain open on Black Friday to help power all your outdoor adventures.
  • Big Agnes, Burton, Keen, KÜHL, Outdoor Research, prAna and a host of leading outdoor companies will connect with their hundreds of thousands of collective followers on social media with a unique, inspirational message to get outside on Black Friday.
  • Google and REI are launching a pilot program to support nonprofits in Austin and Seattle, starting with the Washington Trails Association and the Shoal Creek Conservancy. This pilot, in both markets, has two components. The first component is a “skilled service project” that centers on Google’s Creative Skills for Innovation Lab (or CSI:Lab), which helps organizations rethink how they collaborate, instill creativity and tackle critical organizational issues. The second is a more traditional service project, which REI will organize through its Outdoor Programs and Outreach team, with support from Google employees.
  • Meetup is tapping its network of 25,000 organizers who run local outdoor groups to host outdoor activities on Black Friday.
  • Upworthy is a mission-driven media company and will help drive a national conversation about the important mental and physical health benefits of being outside. Upworthy tells stories that open doors to new ideas that make people feel surprised, happy, inspired and motivated. Stories that connect us to each other, change our minds, open our hearts and sometimes even make the world a better place.

About REI
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 6 million active members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 148 stores in 36 states. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI.com/REI-Garage or the free REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs 170 custom-designed itineraries on every continent. REI’s Outdoor School is run by professionally-trained, expert-instructors who teach beginner- to advanced-level courses about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to–and steward–the outdoor places that inspire us.

Contact:
REI Public Affairs
(253) 395-5958
prrequests@rei.com

Source: REI