Active-Outdoor Industries Lead Paradigm Shift for Women in the Workplace

Outdoor Industry Leads Paradigm Shift for Women in the Workplace

As featured today in the Denver Post ⇒

As #TimesUp for Hollywood and weekly headlines implicate one tech company after another, the $800 billion outdoor industry has been, for the past three years, investing in a cultural evolution where women leaders thrive.

It starts and stops with the CEO- over 70 of them.

We created our Camber Outdoors CEO Pledge in 2015—a first-of-its-kind initiative committing signatories to attract, retain, and advance women in their workplaces by elevating women’s leadership as a strategic business imperative. In a report released today by Heidrick and Struggles, five leading outdoor industry executives provide perspective on the impacts of the pledge: Donna Carpenter, CEO of Burton; Sally McCoy, former CEO of CamelBak; Jerry Stritzke, CEO of REI Co-op; Jim Weber, CEO of Brooks Running Company, and Deanne Buck, executive director of Camber Outdoors.

While other CEO Pledges, Paradigm for Parity, Catalyst CEO, Champion for Change, CEO Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion, have emerged in the past year, none focus on leveraging what makes a particular industry unique.

“A little over 3 years ago the outdoor industry collectively embraced an opportunity with only the vision of what was possible.” said Deanne Buck, executive director of Camber Outdoors. It is a testament to the leadership and spirit inspired by the outdoors that we are here today.”

We’ve come a long way in 2.5 years.

Active-outdoor industry executives agree they still have a long way to go to reach gender equality, but since signing the CEO Pledge and working with us, they have seen positive changes within their companies. Dialogue around gender equality has opened up and steps have been taken to provide more mentoring, sponsorship and leadership opportunities for women.

Since the pledge launched in 2015, it’s grown from twelve original signers to 75, and last year we held our first CEO Pledge Advisory Council where Peak Partners Arc’teryx, Burton, Patagonia, and REI came together to lay the groundwork for future priorities.

Above all, there is certainly increased awareness of a need for change, and advancing more women in leadership roles is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do for business.

We’re looking towards an equal future.

Creating a new paradigm won’t be short or seamless. As of now, on a national-level, women comprise 60 percent of entry-level positions, then 5 to 10 percent of c-suite positions, and even less among CEOs. “Research shows that companies see very little change or successes in 1 to 3 years. Within 3 to 5 years, they start to see some wins, but they really see momentum after 5 years,” explains Buck.

Take Donna and Jake Carpenter of Burton Snowboards. Thirteen years ago, they looked around the room of a leadership meeting and saw no women. At that moment, they committed to understanding the why. Today 42% of their leadership roles are filled by women, a dramatic increase from 10%. Donna will be the first to say, “a great workplace for women is a great work place for all.”

As we’re looking at a what 2025 and 2030 may bring, this year matters, too. In 2018, we plan on bringing together 100 brands towards a common vision via the Camber Outdoors CEO Pledge. We will continue to prioritize research that makes a difference, and build an industry of leaders who wholly represent the people who play outside. We, with our partners, are leading the paradigm shift for women in the workplace.

Formerly the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC)


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