The night sky opened up and "blessed" us with three feet of snow by first light. My trusty weather app had predicted three inches. Springtime in the Rockies means anything is possible. Lacing up my running shoes, I knew I was in for a heart-pounding, lung searing, thigh burning “trail run.”
As I adventured my way through the crisp air and warm sun, I reflected on the choices in front of me: post-holing through fresh snow or retracing another’s tracks. I oscillated between both. The stride of my forbearer was out of sync with my cadence; the plant was unstable. Sometimes, I compromised and adapted to take advantage of someone else’s efforts. Sometimes, most times, I ventured out, creating my own path.
This analogy is not new to me. I think of it often. It seemed fitting as I pondered the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition’s (OIWC) guest editorial for SNEWS’ month-long focus celebrating the impact of women on business, getting more people outside and active, and on the future of the active outdoor industries.
Women need to see other women leading organizations as much as men do. We all need footsteps to follow. Every person brings a different life experience, a distinctive cadence, to the trail. We all learn by surrounding ourselves with people who think differently from us. The focus of SNEWS this month is not as much about highlighting women, but showcasing dynamic thought leaders who have made and continue to make significant contributions to the growth of the industries that support our passions for being active and outdoors. By doing so, SNEWS is thought-leading and we are proud to partner with them.
This year, OIWC is celebrating its 20th anniversary. We, too, have followed in footsteps and we have post-holed. For our first 16 years, OIWC connected women and shined a spotlight on role models. We treaded the trail while gathering collective wisdom and data points to sketch out our next route, how expanding the work of OIWC would be a competitive advantage and strategic business-driver.
As more women could see themselves contributing to the growth of the active outdoor industries as leaders, we started to work with the companies themselves. Executive teams, mostly men, became integral members of our community and forward effort. We expanded our circle of role models, of the people who break trail, to include all leaders who understand the business imperative of women’s voices and experience in decision-making positions.
Recently, we have been exploring a few first ascents. Through OIWC’s CEO Pledge, our member companies are setting the standard for all other industries. By leveraging our shared passion for the places we play, unwillingness to settle for status quo, and our drive to innovate, together we are establishing a new reality of what is possible. Look for us to build on this success in the coming years by thinking and acting boldly. We have reached the end of the established trail and invite each of you to join us in this exploration. It is springtime everywhere and anything is possible.
Executive Director, OIWC