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Testing gear at Pearl Izumi. Courtesy Chrisina Kiffney Photography

By Eli Wallace

If the outdoor industry wants to be sustainable, it needs to include more women as top-level leaders. That’s one of the core beliefs of Boulder’s Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC), a group that works to make the outdoor industry a top choice for female employees.

“Women are a solution to one of the biggest challenges facing outdoor companies. Over the next 10 years, these companies will have to compete for employees with specialized skills,” says Tori Barnett, OIWC’s marketing director. “Because of the outdoor industry’s reliance on technology and engineering for innovation, it will be in direct competition with Fortune 500 companies in energy, automobile and high-tech sectors.”

The group aims to create inclusive and attractive work-places for not only female athletes and mountain guides, but also accountants, IT specialists, educators, engineers and other professionals. “Studies show that companies with a higher portion of women in their leadership teams are also the companies that have the best financial performance,” Barnett says.

OIWC provides its members with professional development tools, including a mentoring program, and hosts a few networking nights per year (there’s one on July 17). For more information, or to become a member, visit the organization’s website at www.oiwc.org.