The Pledge for Inclusion and Opportunity


Outdoor Industry Taking Action to Address Lack of Women Leadership

We all know how much of a boys club it can be once women reach leadership positions. The disproportionate number of female CEOs created a movement specifically in the outdoor industry, a push to close that gap so to speak. We’ve heard a lot of talk in this arena, but have they lived up to their hype?

Three years ago, Camber Outdoors took the initiative not only to recognize this problem but to address it. Their “CEO Pledge”, a commitment by outdoor industries to make it easier for women to mobilize through the ranks, made it their goal to have a better representation of women CEOs.

Jerry Stritzke, CEO of outdoor giant REI, noted that the outdoor industry specifically presented problems for women who were trying to move up.

“What became obvious to me in the outdoor industry is that the opportunity to network into leadership roles probably didn’t exist in the way that it did in the other environments that I had been in,” Stritzke noted when recently asked about the CEO Pledge.

Since the CEO Pledge was created three years ago, other major players, such as REI, signed the pledge and taken action toward fixing the disparity problem.

For businesses like REI, the push to get women into more leadership positions was an easy decision. Women make up a large portion of consumers of outdoor equipment. It simply makes sense to give them that representation by allowing more opportunity for women in leadership roles. A win-win-win if you will.

Outdoor Industries are Leading the Way

In terms of action, there’s no doubt that the outdoor industry is one of the leaders in striving toward equality. The CEO Pledge has already been signed by a total of 75 different outdoor businesses, and more are starting to join the effort.

Businesses like REI are even holding events that promote women moving into leadership roles.

But there is still work to be done. Women make up roughly 46 percent of outdoor enthusiasts, yet they make up less than 20 percent of the leadership positions in the outdoor industry. Not as much disparity as other industries, but the gap exists nonetheless. By recognizing the problem at least, and giving women the opportunities to further their career and broaden their network, gradual change will occur.

This push might not solve gender inequality in leadership entirely, it could however permanently change the culture of the outdoor industry. Imagine how this could drive sales and ultimately transform the outdoor industry into an all inclusive, not to mention lucrative, playing field.




Photo: Zululand Observer