For many years, REI has worked to create a welcoming, inclusive environment in the outdoors and ensure our retail stores and offices reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. In 2011, building on prior years’ efforts, the co-op rolled out a five-year diversity and inclusion plan, approved by REI’s senior leadership team and board of directors. As part of this effort, the co-op also hired its first director of diversity and inclusion, whose primary focus is to ensure we have aligned strategies across the co-op.
We believe diversity and inclusion is a business imperative needed to realize our aspiration to serve our members and customers 100 years and beyond. Our vision is that:
REI is a courageous, culturally competent organization where diversity and inclusion are woven into the fabric of our company, driving superior business results and a sustainable competitive advantage.
To work toward the fulfillment of this vision, the co-op has aligned its strategy around three primary initiatives and their corresponding goals:
We value what we have learned from listening to our current and potential customers. Through our 2011 Diversity Customer Insights Study, we deepened our intelligence about the outdoor enthusiast market across the spectrums of race and age.
The study’s objectives were to understand differences in outdoor activity participation, learn more about the attitudes and behaviors toward the outdoors among racial and ethnic groups, and gain a sense of the size of current and future markets.
Research with overrepresented samples of Black, Latino/a and Asian outdoor enthusiasts included an online survey (with more than 3,000 participants) and targeted focus groups.
The findings increased our understanding of our current and future customers and help us recruit employees that reflect our diverse customer base and positions REI to serve customers in a more culturally relevant way.
At REI, our employees are more than just retail experts; they are members of the co-op and share in our diversity and inclusion vision. In 2011, we employed an increasingly diverse workforce, as shown in the chart below.
During a four-week period in the summer of 2011 we continued our commitment to develop our employees by delivering “Leading Inclusion,” a day-and-a-half training designed to sustain and expand REI’s respectful and inclusive workplace and shopping experience.
As the single largest investment ever made in a retail training at REI, 600 retail store management team members participated via 24 sessions in 12 cities across the country. These managers in turn delivered a 90-minute “Inclusion at REI” module to their entire store team. We are working to deliver this training co-op wide.
We believe that our commitment to an inclusive workplace and customer experience is extremely important, and this has led to industry-leading scores for inclusion on our 2011 employee engagement survey:
REI is working to build relationships with diverse communities. Efforts in 2011 included the pilot phase of diversity community outreach programs in Atlanta and Southern California. These pilots focused on inspiring and increasing outdoor recreation and participation via environmental stewardship activities within the Black and Latino/a communities. The pilots drove engagement with more than 70 organizations. In total, the co-op has invested more than $450,000 over three years in this effort.
We used the insights from these pilots to train our outdoor programs and outreach teams on how better to facilitate relationships with new audiences in their markets. We are using the assessment from the pilots to build an interactive toolkit for 2012.
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