Hold onto your seats.
Some incredible news was announced this morning at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market: REI, one of the nation’s biggest outdoor retail companies, and the founder of the REI Foundation (mission: “to help ensure that tomorrow’s outdoor enthusiasts and conservation stewards reflect the diversity of America”) has awarded a $1.5 million dollar grant to the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition. Y’all, this is a BIG DEAL.
The announcement was made this morning by REI’s CEO and President, in tandem with 13 other industry CEOs, all of whom signed a pledge promising to promote leadership and programming opportunities for women. The goal? By 2025, they hope to shape the leadership of outdoor industry companies so that it mirrors the gender diversity of all outdoor enthusiasts and the United States itself.
How are they going to do that? Well, the incredible OIWC has laid out a plan for that $1.5 million. Named after REI’s incredible 105-year-old founder, Mary Anderson, this grant, “a catalyst to unleash the talent of women and spur ideas,” is going to be used in three ways to make a huge difference for all outdoorswomen:
“1) 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.
2) 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.
3) 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.”
We at Misadventures are beyond thrilled to see this level of support for women who love the outdoors, and for those in the industry who work every day to make our community an equal one for all outdoor enthusiasts, regardless of gender. We’re on board! We’ve been on board! And we encourage every outdoor retailer to sign the pledge, and its awesomely inspiring declaration:
“We love being outside and being active, and we treasure the places we play – this is what connects us.
We are an innovative industry that welcomes all.
Our individual differences are respected, celebrated, and embraced as essential to the vibrancy of our community.
To preserve and enhance this dynamism, we seek to attract the most talented and skilled employees who reflect the gender diversity of our participants.”
Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.