Principle over profits

At the Camber Breakfast during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2018, VF Corporation’s CEO laid out a new plan to put business ethics on the same level as performance.
Publish date:
From left: Deanne Buck of Camber Outdoors, Steve Rendle of VF Corp., and Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro

From left: Deanne Buck of Camber Outdoors, Steve Rendle of VF Corp., and Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro

“Purpose-led” was the term of the day at the Camber Outdoor Thought Leader Keynote during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, when the VF Corporation's CEO Steve Rendle detailed the company’s plans to redefine the conglomerate’s internal mission.

“What’s that common thread that’s allowed VF to grow over the last 119 years? It’s the willingness to evolve,” Rendle said before launching into an overview of a year-plus effort on the part of the company to elevate an inclusive, environmental, and integrity-based purpose to the same level of importance as the brands’ performance and profits.

Rendle is latching on to a trend that’s gaining traction across the outdoor industry, as companies boost their environmental activism and advocacy. Brands like Patagonia and VF’s subsidiary The North Face have taken leading roles in pioneering purpose-minded business, but VF hopes to expand it both internally and across the industry.

“We power movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and the planet,” Rendle said, unveiling a new internal purpose statement for VF that codified broadly the company’s personal and environmental goals. Rendle called it the “why” of VF’s corporate strategy, a piece that had been missing from the “how” and “what.”

Frequently, the conversation returned to Camber Outdoors co-founder and Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Ann Krcik, who passed away in February. Rendle spoke fondly of Krcik, a prominent voice and employee at The North Face, attributing the conscience of VF’s latest initiative to her. 

“Much of what our journey is about, her fingerprints are all over,” he said. “She always challenged me to be a more thoughtful, more purpose-led leader.”

Rue Mapp, the founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, who briefly spoke prior to Rendle, also praised Krcik. “She was my mentor, and I realized she was a lot of people’s mentors,” Mapp said.

Rendle outlined VF’s goals as increasing diversity in leadership, expanding employee empowerment and interaction with the company’s goals, and growing transparency in its business. “We’re aligning our 70,000 associates against a common vision,” Rendle said, “And that’s where real success comes from.”

Returning to Krcik, Rendle asked everyone in the room to reflect on what they stand for, attributing the idea to something his friend would regularly contemplate. Rendle encouraged other brands and industry leaders to adopt the same purpose-minded business practices the VF is initiating and, as was often the case, follow in Krcik’s footsteps.

This article was originally published in Day 4 of The Daily (summer 2018).


Women speaking on a panel in the Camp area of Outdoor Retailer

Day 3: Make time for these 5 events

1. Camber Outdoors Thought-Leader Keynote 7 to 9 a.m. at the McNichols Civic Center Building, 144 W. Colfax Ave.: Speakers Steve Rendle, chairman and CEO of VF Corporation, and Rue Mapp, CEO and founder of Outdoor Afro, will lead a talk about diversity and being purpose-led more

Steve Rendle, VF Corp CEO

VF Corp's CEO to talk about being a purpose-led company

VF Corporation’s CEO Steve Rendle has been selected as the featured speaker at Camber Outdoors’ Thought-Leader Keynote during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. During his keynote, Rendle will talk about the role and responsibility of purpose-led companies and the importance of more

A group of volunteers pose during the Granite Gear summer 2017 trash cleanup in Salt Lake City.

Day 0: Don't miss these 4 kick-off events

1. The "Urban Adventures" Demo Experience 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Confluence and Commons Parks: Try before you buy at the demo day set in a new urban environment along the Cherry Creek and South Platte River, within walking, biking, and free shuttle distance from all points more

A group of people of color gathered on a hike

Moving forward in the wake of the Camber Outdoors diversity pledge debacle

Just when the outdoor recreation industry seemed to be making serious progress on the complex issues of racial diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), the best efforts of a leading advocacy organization were stopped dead in their tracks. Despite its good intentions the initiative more

Day 2 Cover

The state of diversity, equity, and inclusion

If Outdoor Retailer Summer Market's event lineup was any indication, the outdoor industry is putting diversity issues front and center. From a lack of ethnic diversity in leadership positions and brand marketing to cultural appropriation of native designs and symbols, our more

Camber Outdoors Logo

Camber Outdoors to offer sponsored access to DEI tools

A new initiative from Camber Outdoors will widen access to the group’s DEI tools and programs. Last week, Camber announced a sponsorship initiative aimed at small businesses and nonprofits in the outdoors industry. Certain businesses and organizations can apply for sponsored more

Brand advocacy panelists talk values on the last day of the Outdoor Industry's lunch and learn panels.

What you missed at OIA's lunch sessions at Outdoor Retailer

As the title sponsor and education provider of the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2018 trade show, Outdoor Industry Association offered lunch-and-learn panels each day of the show. The topics varied, but were all informed by OIA’s three pillar focus areas: policy, participation, more


Industry Buzz: Day 2 at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show

Meetings are cranking, pedometer steps are skyrocketing, and happy hour drinks are flowing. Here’s what you missed in the mix: Have a news tip? Email us at Stay up to date and get Industry Buzz delivered to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter. more

Aerial view of Denver with mountains in the background

How VF Corp chose Denver as its new home

In a roundtable with reporters Wednesday afternoon, VF Corporation CEO Steve Rendle brought his company’s decision to move to Denver in line with the conglomerate's employee-centric ethics, attributing the move to a push to attract and keep talent in a location that matches more