An R E I cashier in a green vest smiles

Building an Inclusive Workplace

Employee Engagement & Benefits

Our commitment to our employees and our work environment is the reason we were ranked 48 on Glassdoor's Best Places to Work list for 2021. We're proud to be a nationally recognized employer with competitive pay, retirement, and profit-sharing plans; high quality, affordable health care benefits; and a competitive, parental leave policy. 

Here are a few other examples of ways employees are supported: 

  • We make regular investments in pay to ensure our wages are competitive. We’ve invested more than $45 million in retail pay increases since November 2019—and that’s not counting annual merit increases. 
  • When the co-op does well, our employees do well. Every full-time, part-time and seasonal employee is eligible for the REI Summit Incentive Plan, an annual program that rewards employees based on company and team performance. And in 2021, as a recognition for outstanding co-op performance, most employees are eligible to receive an additional one-time bonus that effectively doubles the bonus target for many employees. 
  • At hire, all employees begin to accrue paid sick-time and enjoy prodeals, employee discounts and Co-op Way Days.  
  • Full time employees are eligible for additional benefits after 30 days, as are part-time employees who average 20 hours per week over the course of one calendar year. Those benefits include: health care, retirement contributions and best in class vacation time. Additionally, these employees are eligible for a market-leading 5% guaranteed contribution to 401k, regardless of their own participation or contributions. 
  • Every co-op employee and their household members have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which includes free individual counseling sessions with licensed therapists. Counseling support can take place either face-to-face, over tele-video, online or through texting. As of 2022, we’re expanding the number of free mental health sessions from five per issue per year to eight. 
  • Beginning in 2022, REI Co-op is also expanding the types of adoption expenses that are eligible for reimbursement. This will include expenses incurred by spouses and life partners, which is a rare and industry-leading benefit.
  • We’ve enhanced the coverage level for gender-affirming medical services by removing the overall dollar limit for services under a gender dysphoria diagnosis. Employees who identify as transgender can continue to seek the medical services they need and have access to a health guide who can help with navigating health care. 
  • We’ve expanded the amount of pay we offer to members of the military while they are performing active-duty service (often referred to as military differential pay) from two weeks to 90 days. This benefit is now extended to part-time benefit-eligible employees as well.  
  • Eligibility for bereavement pay has expanded to include part-time benefit-eligible employees. All eligible employees, which includes full-time employees, will receive up to three days after the death of a family member or close friend. 

REI’s commitment to becoming a fully inclusive, anti-racist, multicultural organization

Building on its efforts to fight for racial equity in the outdoors and beyond, REI Co-op is committed to becoming a fully inclusive, anti-racist, multicultural organization. Since July 2020, the co-op has been assessing its current practices and identifying where it can become more inclusive, affirming, and welcoming for everyone. This important next step will require a transformation of REI’s business and ways of working to become an organization that: 

  • Recognizes and addresses racism as a barrier to diversity and inclusion, and embraces multicultural diversity as an asset. 
  • Embodies a culture and practices that engender belonging and full participation with diverse groups. 
  • Actively works to eliminate policies and beliefs that lead to racial inequities in the co-op, the outdoor industry and society. 

As a predominantly white organization in a predominantly white industry, REI has directly contributed to systems of inequity. Therefore, we must actively work to dismantle the policies and beliefs that lead to the inequities we see in our co-op, our industry and in society—policies and beliefs that harm all of us.

Becoming a fully inclusive, anti-racist, multicultural organization requires every one of us to do our part to engender belonging and full participation of diverse racial groups and other groups that have been historically excluded.

In 2021, we:

  • Continued to develop our racial equity, diversity and inclusion (REDI) strategy that will support the co-op’s transformation in becoming a fully inclusive, anti-racist, multicultural organization. This holistic strategy will touch all parts of REI’s business, including our workforce, members and customers, and society.
  • Promoted Wilma Wallace to Chief Diversity and Social Impact Officer, where she will lead and champion the co-op’s racial equity, diversity and inclusion work at an enterprise level.
  • Hired a DVP of Talent and Diversity to create a change management function to further our racial equity, diversity and inclusion culture transformation.
  • Conducted racial equity education and capability building sessions with our Senior Leadership Team and a cross-divisional working team that included topics such as the history of racism, white dominant culture, and racism in the outdoors.
  • Launched bias in hiring and inclusive behavior training for all leaders.
  • Created a new Safe Spaces policy to support employees who have experienced forms of harassment or discrimination while at work. The message that “Everyone is welcome. Discrimination is not.” is shared in each store location to create physically and emotionally supportive workspaces for our retail employees, experiences guides, and customer service representatives.
  • Partnered with Right To Be (formerly known as Hollaback!) to offer a bystander intervention training to our retail employees. Right To Be is a nonprofit based in New York City working to end harassment in all forms. Training will be completed in the first half of 2022, so employees have techniques to intervene when harassment occurs in our stores, or on a trail.
  • Created an internal racial equity, diversity and inclusion hub that provides access to self-paced, facilitator-led, and e-learning content available to our entire workforce.
  • Changed our retail hourly hiring practices in specific locations to source talent that represents the diversity of the communities we serve.

Employee Resource Groups

In 2020, we launched our employee resource groups, known internally at REI as Inclusion Networks. We started with networks for people of color, LGBTQ+, women, and military service. Inclusion Networks, led by employees who share historically excluded dimensions of diversity, welcome all employees and align to the co-op's values of workplace racial equity, diversity and inclusion.

Over the past year, the Inclusion Networks have connected with thousands of employees across the co-op to celebrate cultural moments, provide mentorship opportunities, and create safe spaces to connect with others who share similar dimensions of diversity. More than 10% of our employee base has joined the Inclusion Network program, identifying as either a member of the affinity group or an ally of those members. While the Inclusion Network program continues to evolve, these groups have made an immediate impact on co-op employees and in transforming our workplace culture. We are committed to their long-term success. To support this effort, Inclusion Network leaders receive a stipend for their service, in addition to their earnings from their primary employment role at REI.

Employee Resource Groups

We are committed to making gains in racial equity, diversity, and inclusion. We know that operating under the “status quo” over the years has proven to yield the same results, with very little growth in the percentage of people of color employed by the co-op. We are committed to breaking this cycle so that our workforce reflects our current and future customer base, our communities, and our society.

Race

In 2021, REI piloted changes to its retail hourly hiring practices in specific areas to source talent that represents the diversity of the communities we serve. The goals were to reduce bias in the hiring process, increase the number of Black/African-American employees, and provide a move inclusive working environment. The effort focused on hiring more Black/African-American employees in specific locations: Washington DC, Georgia, Texas, Washington and California, where Black/African-American employees were not represented compared to the local community demographic.

We focused on creating tools to ensure a consistent candidate experience for every candidate, partnered with local community organizations, and HBCUs, and held multiple hiring events. These efforts resulted in:

  • Increasing the Black/African-American candidate attraction rate by 6% from Q1 2021 to Q4 2021 (from 8.5% to 14.5%)
  • Increasing the number of Black/African-American employees by over 18% during the pilot period, resulting in an expansion of the pilot to additional locations across the U.S.
  • Reducing turnover rates for Black/African-American employees by 4% (from 17% to 13%).
  • Increasing Black, Indigenous, people of color representation in retail leadership by 2% (from 16% to 18%).
Workforce Data graph

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Race Demographics graph

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Women

Our co-founder, Mary Anderson, set the precedence for women leading the co-op 84 years ago. Ever since then, we have pushed for gender equity, particularly in recruiting, promoting, and retaining women. In 2021, the percentage of women in our workforce stayed steady and women in the leadership pipeline increased slightly.

Women in the REI Workforce graph

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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 100 out of 100 on its Corporate Equality Index this year, up from a score of 95 in previous years. While we don’t measure LGBTQ+ status across our workforce, our Outside with Pride Inclusion Network and our longstanding nonprofit partnerships help us understand where we’re doing well and where there are opportunities for growth.

Gender identity and expression is included in our equal employment opportunity policies in order to foster an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable sharing their authentic selves. We have guidelines and learning materials to help our managers and employees maintain a welcoming and supportive environment for transgender and non-binary people, and gender affirmation surgery is a covered benefit under all of REI’s medical plans.

Disability

Removing barriers to promote an accessible workplace is important to REI. We value people who experience life with different abilities and seek to learn from their experiences to enrich the overall employee and co-op member experience. Providing accommodations during the application and interview process, as well as during employment is just the beginning. We also work with the National Organization on Disability on holistic approaches to supporting people with disabilities in our distribution centers, and view opportunities for continuous improvement around accessibility as critical to the growth of the co-op.