April 3, 2017
The following is an excerpt from an REI press release:
Outdoor co-op REI has 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.
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
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 to July 16, Mt. Hood in Oregon from August 18 to August 20 and Waterville Valley Resort in New Hampshire from September 22 to September 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.