On Monday this week, REI Co-op CEO Jerry Stritzke sent the note below to all co-op employees.
As a leader, I believe integrity means taking action based on your values. I’m writing you today because I’ve watched the President’s first days in office closely and I am concerned by what I’ve seen.
Over the course of the first week alone, we’ve witnessed actions that conflict with our co-op values on issues including climate, the environment, women’s rights and the singling out of individuals based on nationality and belief. These issues are core to the health of the outdoors and the ideals of our nation.
We know our employee base and our membership span the political spectrum on any given issue. And we embrace respectful dialogue and debate. But it’s important for me to be incredibly clear about the following—we are an organization, and a country, built on inclusion. We believe we are better when we come together, when we are open and when we are welcoming.
Accordingly, we do not support the executive order issued by the President on Friday regarding immigration. I have reached out personally to all employees currently in the immigration process to ensure they have the support they need. If you have questions or concerns or are personally impacted, I urge you to contact your HR business partner.
From our founding days, the co-op has welcomed all. That means whether you are an employee, a member or a customer you can count on respect and can be assured that we will not discriminate based on who you are or where you’re from.
We will also be deliberate about how we make a positive impact. We will focus our advocacy efforts on public lands, climate change and equality for all. We are committed to taking action in these areas because believe REI can unite people across the political spectrum.
In recent months we have taken specific actions in support of our values. In December, we publicly joined hundreds of businesses in urging the incoming Administration to maintain our nation’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accords. In January, we crafted an open letter in defense of our public lands, which more than 170 CEOs have now signed. Today, we are reaffirming our policy and philosophy of inclusiveness—as we did regarding North Carolina in 2016.
In addition, we will be dedicating our philanthropic funding, planned at more than $6 million in 2017, to creating access to the outdoors for all.
Integrity is the measure of an individual and a leader. I am speaking out today because I believe these issues are too important to stay silent. I look forward to discussion and debate about how we, together, can be a force for positive change in the outdoors—and for our country.