Spotlight on the Camber Outdoors CEO Pledge

Spotlight on the Camber Outdoors CEO Pledge

The Camber Outdoors CEO Pledge is a national, thought-leading initiative that provides a platform for companies in the active-outdoor industries to establish women’s leadership as a strategic business imperative. To learn more about how the pledge is benefiting businesses and our industries as a whole, we sat down for a Q&A with our executive director, Deanne Buck.

Who’s behind the CEO pledge, and how did it come together?

Camber Outdoors and 12 of our corporate partners started the CEO Pledge in January 2015, by asking, “How do we create something companies and executives feel invested in?” The idea was to highlight bright spots and provide a community of companies who are invested in women’s leadership as a strategic business imperative.

Today, almost 70 companies have signed the CEO Pledge. The staff of Camber Outdoors conceived the pledge as the first point of engagement for companies seeking to attract and retain women employees.

Why target CEOs?

All available research shows that a CEO or brand leader’s commitment to gender equity is the number one lever for success. The key to the pledge is that it requires real action and real change. Once a company gets the ball rolling, it’s only a matter of time before team members start to see and feel the difference.

What’s the business and brand advantage of signing the CEO Pledge and making women’s leadership a strategic business priority?

McKinsey projects that there will be a shortage of nearly five million skilled workers in the US by 2020 if companies continue with current hiring and promotion practices. The status quo is, in part, that for every 100 women who are promoted above a manager role, 130 men are promoted. What’s more, women are 60% of college graduates, yet they make up less than 10% of CEOs.

If these statistics hold, there will be a time in the near future when the barrier to growth isn’t lack of consumers, but lack of skilled employees to drive business sustainability. Companies that are investing in their employer brands now and doing the work to design workplaces that recognize, reward, and leverage diverse talent, will be positioned to grow, innovate, and meet the needs of a more multicultural consumer-base.

What’s more, women consumers make over 70% of all purchasing decisions. Recent research from NPD stated that 85% of all millennial women prioritize a brand’s social consciousness as a factor in choosing where to shop and what to buy. Companies that understand the sophistication of today’s consumer understand how their brand values reflect outward. A commit to elevating and accelerating women’s leadership within their business will reflect in a broader base of consumers who feel value alignment with the brand.  

What does success look like for the Camber Outdoors CEO Pledge?

We’re working to position the active-outdoor industries as the employers of choice for women. In order to do so, our partner companies must be workplaces where all women can see themselves as leaders, because they see leaders at our partner companies who look like them. That’s success.

But this isn’t just about women’s leadership. It is about cultivating cultures where every employee contributes to and sees value in a diversity of ideas, perspectives, and people. Every employee should feel part of the solution that drives innovation and prosperity at their company. So that’s success, too.

At the end of the day, the ultimate success of the CEO Pledge would be that it rides off into the sunset, because we’ve truly reached our vision of Everyone’s Outdoors—from the backcountry to the boardroom.

Photo: Deanne Buck and Jerry Stritzke, CEO and President of REI, chat with a guest at an industry event celebrating the Camber Outdoors CEO Pledge.

Formerly the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC)


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