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Diversity at REI

I find it telling that your drop down menu does not contain anything relevant to diversity.  
 
I live in the Detroit metro area.  The closest REI store to my home is the store in Troy MI store.   I am concerned with the lack of diversity I have observed for the last 15+ years at your Troy MI store.  I visited "our" Troy store earlier this week to pick up a few skiing items.  As well, I purposely circulated through the entire store noting each REI employee.  In the entire store, there were ZERO people of color employed and working.  My observation leads me to believe that REI hiring practices are discriminatory based on my observations of the make up of "our staff."   Whether purposely or not, the results of REI's hiring practices for the Troy MI store is that racial makeup of the store's employees does not represent that of Detroit or the Detroit metro area. 
 
The city of Detroit and the people of the city could use the help of the REI board.  I would like the REI board to consider the following action :
 
1. Establish hiring practices with the goal of achieving a workforce that is representative of the Detroit metro area at each of "our" Detroit metro area stores. 
 
2. Establish an REI store in the city of Detroit !!!!  Not only could this store support the ongoing revitalization of Detroit, it could also serve as a community outreach center helping people experience the outdoors and wilderness.  In addition, this store could also be situated such that mass transit could be used to visit the store as well as via bicycle.  
 
I do not think REI should be an organization that  appears to only supports white people living in the metro area of Detroit.  I do not believe the REI board does either but currently REI is operating this way in the metro area of Detroit.  
 
I would challenge all REI members to take a look at the hiring practices at your local REI store during your next visit.  Is the REI work force hired by REI representative of your community?  
 
As well, are the REI stores in your community placed in areas that are friendly to mass transit and bicycle access or are the stores only accessible via your car in distance suburbs?  
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10 Replies

@markfranchett1 one of the things we most appreciate about our online community is the ability to hear directly from our members about their ideas, suggestions, kudos and concerns - thank you for taking the time to provide this valuable feedback to us.

Back in July, we made a commitment to fight for racial equity - you can read that statement in the Co-op Journal - and we recently posted an update to the July article, which outlines our goals and progress so far relative to our enterprise-wide racial equity, diversity and inclusion (REDI) initiative. 

Throughout this work, we will be examining our real estate and hiring policies and practices among many others. We will examine our approach to site selection and how it supports not only our social impact agenda but also the future of our business. In addition, later this year, we look forward to sharing with our employees, members and partners our goals and actions to increase the diversity of our workforce.

We recognize that this may not be a gratifying response for you today, but we assure you that both of these topics are high on our priority list in 2021 as we work to develop strategies and actions to address opportunities for impactful change. In the meantime, please remain engaged, vocal and solution-oriented! 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hi Jen,

You mention above "the  future of our business."   What is the business of the REI Co-op?   Is REI basically a outdoor equipment version of Newman's Own where the principle focus is generating funds to support selected charities or is it something else?  I am wondering how to provide feedback.   I have belonged to food Coops in the past where the focus has also been on what would benefit the members. 

Thanks,

Mark

 

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@markfranchett1 likely the best place to read about the business of the co-op is on our "About Us" page on REI.com, which includes additional links to different parts of our business. In terms of providing feedback, you can certainly do that here in the community (we're listening and forwarding comments along all the time!), or you can email publicaffairs@rei.com. Hope this helps!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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Hi Jen,

Thank you for the reply and link.  I just read the REI president's report which seems hopeful.  He speaks to systemic racism as well as climate change.  I look forward to seeing what next steps REI will taking.    

good point

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes
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I am opposed to anything resembling a quota system. Hiring someone because of skin color is quite as racist as refusing to hire them for that reason.

And REI employees should be representative of the outdoor community, not the population as a whole. I have long wondered why minorities seem to be underrepresented in outdoor activities, but such seems to be the case. And since REI attracts employees who enjoy such activities, it is no surprise that there are few minorities employed there.

Now if you are a minority and want more minorities working at REI, put in your application.

@markfranchett1 the lack of diversity is well noted in the "outdoor" community. As a person of color as well (well, I guess I am assuming you are one also), I am keenly aware of this as I hike up and down trails or paddle on a kayak. Additionally, when I enter trail races, I look around and notice that I am one of only a handful (1 hand) of POC on the starting line at each race. That said, the reasons for this, are very complex in nature...from access to equipment and trails to lack of introduction, etc. Also, in recent months, there have been several articles written on the fear (substantiated) POC have when hiking or recreating in rural areas. I think your frustrations are valid, I like you would love to see more diversity in the outdoor sports and I hope a frank conversation can be started by the community. That said, I do applaud the steps REI is taking as noted by @REI-JenK . I believe the evolution of the community necessitates introspection both by the companies that service the sports as well as the individual participants.

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Mark, I'm curious about the substantiated fear on the trails. Can you give examples of actual threats made? I am aware that racists sadly still exist in our society, but I am also aware that rumors fly, and that it is easy to misunderstand others. In fact, real or perceived threats are often unrelated to skin color, two white people can disagree as easily as can a white person and a black person. All the reasons for disagreements between two Whites can also happen between a White and a Black. We've seen cases in the news originally hyped as racist turned out to be not race related at all (eg. George Floyd, a terrible event but appears related more to a previous dispute when both parties worked at the same club and Floyd accused the cop of being too harsh). All too often, the knee-jerk reaction is to blame racism before facts are in.

I remain curious why there are few minorities in outdoor recreation. I can remember meeting only one black person on the trail, we had a short but friendly conversation. I've only met one black climber, and he learned it as an army ranger.

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@Halraiser as a place to start learning more about why the outdoors isn't a safe and equitable place for all, we recommend this blog in the Co-op Journal on organizations who are working toward a more inclusive outdoor community. Any one of these organizations would be great to engage with to learn more about how others experience the outdoors differently than you might.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.