A group of REI employees in green vests cheer with their hands in the air

Great People and Fair Labor


We can’t achieve great things without great people. When you work for or with the co-op, you can count on our commitment to an inclusive, fair, safe and nondiscriminatory work environment. We ask partner organizations to adopt policies and practices that reflect this commitment. And we encourage our own employees to prioritize their time and energy so they can deliver on their work commitments while pursuing their outside interests.


Employee Engagement and Benefits

At REI, we foster a vibrant community of employees who are passionate about the importance of a life outdoors and work to get more people outside across the country. We believe the co-op is a force for good, and when we do this well, we succeed as a business. People love working at REI because it's a place where you can be yourself, be heard and be respected – working alongside others who are here to do their best work individually and collectively toward our purpose. Employee engagement at REI is strong. We measure engagement regularly and trend well over industry benchmarks and high performing company benchmarks. In 2019, employees rated overall engagement at 80 out of 100, on average. This is based on two measures: if employees are happy at REI and if they would recommend REI as a great place to work. We also enjoy one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the retail industry at 37 percent.

We’re proud to be a nationally recognized employer with competitive pay and benefits programs. Here are just a few examples:

  • Employees are eligible for high quality, affordable health care benefits if they are full time or part time and work an average of 20 hours or more per week over the course of a 12-month period.
  • We have a generous retirement plan and every employee is eligible for bonus pay when the co-op performs well via our Summit Incentive Plan.
  • Time away from work promotes a balanced life. That’s why our benefits include paid holidays, vacation time and sabbaticals. Plus, each year, every employee receives two “Yay Days” – a paid day off to get outside.
  • REI offers a competitive parental leave policy (six weeks fully paid plus six weeks of fully paid medical leave for the birth parent) to benefit eligible employees that can be taken anytime during the first year following the birth, adoption or foster care placement.

Our commitment to our employees and our work environment are the reason we were named as one of FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” in 2019. It also marks the 23rd year in a row we’ve been included on this list— and makes us one of only a handful of companies to do so.

 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We believe the outdoors is for all. To ensure all people feel welcome outside and at the co-op, we know the work starts with all of us at REI. We understand that workforce representation matters and requires continued, long-term focus. We are committed to an equitable and inclusive workplace that advances leadership opportunities for people of racially and ethnically diverse identities and backgrounds.

Our progress to-date is built on a legacy of women’s leadership throughout our 82-year history, going back to our co-founder, Mary Anderson. Building on that strong foundation, we’ve continued to focus on improving gender equity in our employee base and broader community and continue to take actions to ensure that diversity is a visible priority.

In 2019, we rolled out Leading Inclusion training for all people managers to build critical skills required for creating inclusive teams, such as psychological safety and emotional intelligence. We continue to add offerings for all employees to build cultural humility. In 2020, we are thrilled to launch our  Employee Resource Group Program, an important next step in our workplace diversity, equity and inclusion journey.

We will continue to evolve our sourcing, hiring and retention practices – diversifying where we look for talent and making the connection between the diversity in our communities and employees in our workforce, inclusive of many dimensions of identity. We are implementing diversity recruiting, hiring and development practices to increase representation of people of color in leadership roles.

Here are examples of how we’re approaching a few of these:

 

WOMEN

Building on an 82-year foundation of women’s leadership, we have been improving gender equity, especially in recruiting, promoting and retaining women. In 2019, women made up 38% of our Board of Directors, 50% of our senior leadership team (VP and above), 44% of our retail leadership and 45% of our overall workforce.

Women in the REI Workforce Graph 2016 through 2019

 

RACE

We’ve had incremental increases in the racial diversity of our workforce and have opportunity at every level of the co-op to continue to improve. In 2019, REI’s CEO and other senior leaders conducted 10 listening sessions with employees of color across the co-op. They set out to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of people of color at REI in order to further prepare us to work together to identify immediate and long-term solutions to thematic challenges facing people of color working at REI.  We created a Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion role to lead our efforts and drive outcomes we are committed to achieve.

Persons of Color in the REI Workforce Graph 2016 through 2019

 

LGBTQ+

Our commitment to creating an atmosphere where LGBTQ+ employees feel safe and comfortable being themselves has been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign: REI is rated 90 on its Corporate Equality Index. While we don’t currently measure or publish LGBTQ+ status across our workforce, our informal “Outside with Pride” employee group and nonprofit partners help us understand where we’re doing well and where there are opportunities for growth.

REI has advocated for LGBTQ+ legislation in our home state and across the country. Here are some of the ways we do that:

  • In 2012, we supported Referendum 74, which ultimately allowed same-sex marriages to begin taking place in the state of Washington.
  • In 2016, we signed onto an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in the Arlene’s Flowers case, asking the Washington State Supreme Court to uphold a ruling that a business owner broke the law when she refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding.
  • Also in 2016, we publicly opposed HB2, a sweeping law permitting discrimination against LGBTQ+ people across North Carolina, which prohibited cities and counties from passing local laws to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination, including 400 REI employees and more than 450,000 members.
  • In 2017, we hosted over 130 guests at the first LGBTQ+ Outdoor Summit in our Seattle Flagship store and supported the same event with sponsorship, activities and with REI employee panelists in 2018.

We include gender identity and expression in our equal employment opportunity policies to create an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable living and sharing their gender identity. We have guidelines to help our managers and employees create the most welcoming and supportive environment possible for transgender people, and gender affirmation surgery is a covered benefit under all of REI’s medical plans.

 

DISABILITY

Taking steps to remove barriers and promote a more accessible workplace for employees with disabilities is important to REI. We provide accommodations during the application and interview process and during ongoing employment. We work with the National Organization on Disability on holistic approaches to supporting people with disabilities in our distribution centers. We see opportunities to build on this work and to lean into new strategies and tools for creating a more accessible, inclusive and supportive workplace across the co-op.

 

Fair Labor in our Supply Chains

We believe that everyone should have access to working conditions that are inclusive, safe, fair and nondiscriminatory. Our goal is to extend REI's values in the supply chain by supporting the people behind our products and working with suppliers in achieving industry-leading practices.

Our list of factory partners is publicly accessible and identifies the locations around the world where we source gear and apparel. Depending on the country, relying solely on local laws and enforcement may not be sufficient for meeting our expectations. For that reason, REI introduced its Factory Code of Conduct in 1993. The current code establishes standards of workplace conduct for the factories that manufacture products we sell.

To advance the principles outlined in the code, our sustainability and production teams collaborate on process alignment, supplier approval and audit remediation. REI is selective about our factories – we seek out capable, responsible partners. Additionally, each year we audit the majority of the factories in our supply chain using robust social and environmental assessment criteria. Audit data and findings are uploaded to a shared industry database, the Fair Factories Clearinghouse. REI then works with suppliers to identify the root cause of each finding that doesn't align with our standards to inform their development of a corrective action plan. REI maintains regular engagement with our suppliers throughout the corrective action plan implementation process to ensure that commitments made are followed through.

For information about our work to prevent human trafficking and forced labor in supply chains, we encourage you to review REI's disclosures for the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010.

The breadth of fair labor compliance cannot be accomplished solely by one brand. Accordingly, REI has developed partnerships with associations such as the Outdoor Industry Association, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the Social-Labor Convergence Project and Fair Factories Clearinghouse. As an active member in these organizations, we enhance, leverage and build trust with suppliers and brands to work together to address systemic causes of fair labor violations.

We also support innovative programs designed to empower workers, including the Social Labour Convergence Project, the International Labour Organization Better Work Programme, and Fair Trade USA.

 

The Social Labour Convergence Program

Our industry is spending vast amounts of resources on social compliance audits, which are often duplicative and not necessarily the best tool for creating improvements. To meaningfully improve labor conditions, we must change the way we work. The Social Labour Convergence Program has convened over 200 signatories representing a diverse group of brands, manufacturers and labor rights groups. As one of the first signatories, REI plays an active role in developing an industry-wide protocol and verification process to objectively collect social and labor data. This data is then used to identify opportunities for improvement and track progress for the people behind our products.

 

International Labour Organization Better Work Programme

The Better Work Programme is a unique partnership between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation to improve labor standards and competitiveness in global supply chains. The ILO Better Work staff partner with factories to implement best practices in labor management. Their model ensures an ongoing, coordinated dialogue between factory employees and owners. REI strongly encourages participation for qualifying factories that create the REI Co-op products. We also partner with the ILO team to continuously strengthen the collaborative approach to ensure worker well-being.

 

Fair Trade USA

A nonprofit known for its work in agriculture, Fair Trade USA expanded those practices into apparel and home goods products. Fair Trade Certified™ products are made according to rigorous social and environmental standards, and the people who produce them earn a Fair Trade premium for certified products. A growing number of REI Co-op products are certified to the Fair Trade Factory standard, and we are proud to carry certified products from other leading brand partners.

 

Fair Factories Clearinghouse

This nonprofit was launched in 2004 with support from the U.S. Department of State to create sustainable, cost-effective monitoring systems for workplaces around the world. At the time, there was no comprehensive industry tool for managing or sharing labor audit information. REI uses the Fair Factories Clearinghouse (FFC) database as our primary system for maintaining reliable information on the REI Co-op brand supply chain, including factory audits, remediation plans and multi-brand collaborations with shared suppliers. We contribute to the technical advisory group to continuously strengthen the FFC platform.