The outdoors isn’t inherently gender-specific, but the industry that supports its most frequent visitors has focused far more on its male clientele than its female consumers. In a new initiative called Force of Nature, REI Co-Op aims to change this dynamic.
Saying the outdoors should be ‘the world’s largest level playing field’, REI is taking several steps to change the focus of the industry to be more inclusive of women’s stories, needs and images through a variety of efforts.
Here’s what they’ll be rolling out in the coming months:
Changing the Narrative
We’re putting women first for the rest of the year. We’re starting with the stories we tell. In May, we’re partnering with Outside magazine on their first-ever all-women’s issue, and in the fall, we’re hosting a film festival focused on women in the outdoors. Look for stories about women adventurers, makers and rule breakers in our marketing, social media content and here on the Co-op Journal.
You’re looking for a crew. On May 6, we’re kicking off more than 1,000 events designed to get women outside. We’re also offering hundreds of REI Outdoor School classes, 19 new REI Adventures trips and three REI Outessa retreats—immersive, three-day outdoor adventures that connect the outdoor community—all designed for women and girls.
Closing the Gear Gaps
We hear you. Through the years, gear designed for women has improved, but there is still a gap between the quality of men’s and women’s gear. We are partnering with brands to increase focus on building world-class gear designed for women. We’re also working hard inside our own co-op brands and with vendors to offer expanded extended sizing options.
Investing in Communities
We can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re committing $1 million to support community organizations that are already doing great work to create opportunities for women and girls in the outdoors. Roughly $500,000 will support organizations like Camber Outdoors, GirlTrek and the YMCA’s BOLD/GOLD initiative. In May, we’ll be launching a new $500,000 “Force of Nature” fund, available through an open-call submission process, for organizations that join us in our commitment to make outdoors the world’s largest level playing field.