A badass group of women walk through the doors of Burton every day, and the folks at evo, one of North America's top outdoor retailers, recently invited a handful of them to a three-stop, all-women’s panel discussion on the current state of snowboarding. The series dropped into Denver, CO, Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA, evolving from the preseason shopping events routinely hosted for the past several years.
“evo wanted to host an event that was engaging and enriching for attendees, to create a dialogue about community, and to build on the innovation, equality, and sustainability discussions that are currently happening and changing the way we look at the outdoor industry,” evo’s moderator, Colleen Farrell, explained.
At Burton, we believe in gender equality, and we always have. As our CEO, Donna Carpenter, recalled in Denver, “As snowboarders, we’ve always believed in inclusivity because we were excluded. The ski areas didn’t want us, the trade shows didn’t want us...so in the early-to-mid 80s you were as likely to see a woman on the cover as a man. Then we grew quickly, taking on both employees and participants from surf, skate, and snow, which were very male-dominated. All of the sudden, we realized we weren’t living up to that value.” Since then at Burton, we’ve gone from under 10% to 40% women in leadership.
As we made our way from Denver to Seattle, we talked product development, career advancement, and spent a lot of time on sustainability. Thoughtful questions from attendees allowed for some honest moments about how far we’ve come but also how far we, as an industry, still have left to go.
On sustainability, VP of Global Strategy and Insights Ali Kenney said “We’re doing a lot better than we were in the past. This year, every single softgood has a Lifetime Warranty from Burton. We’re not trying to produce one unit more than we have orders for—we’re scored on that. We also just started Pass Along, taking back product and giving people credit that they can use in the future. We’re trying to pull all the levers we can.” Ali Kenney explained in Portland.
Each city had its own unique discussion given the unique experiences of that stop’s panelists, but a theme of mentorship surfaced, and not just in the context of career advancement. As Donna spoke in Denver, “I often tell women to create your own board of directors, those people around you who will not only be your cheerleader, but also those that will help you see things about yourself you might not see.” Further, in Portland, Kenney noted that she'll always take a call from any company in the outdoor industry seeking to understand the logistics behind our accomplishments in sustainability.
The fact is, a blog post can’t do the live events justice. So, check out the live stream, and hit us with your own questions in the comments below to keep the conversation going.