A New Mission: Hire One Million Veterans

JPMorgan Chase's Ross Brown spent 27 years in the military before joining JP Morgan Chase.

JPMorgan Chase’s Ross Brown spent 27 years in the military before joining JP Morgan Chase.

In honor of Veterans Day, we’re posting a Q&A with Ross Brown, director of military and veterans affairs at JPMorgan Chase, about a recently announced initiative by The Veterans Jobs Mission to hire a total of 1 million veterans over the next several-plus years. It’s ironic, given the training and leadership responsibilities so many of them have had, that U.S. veterans continue to suffer an unemployment rate that exceeds that of the general population. The VJM, a coalition of more than 200 companies representing all industry sectors, recently changed its name from the 100,000 Jobs Mission, with the goal of increasing the engagement and career development of vets in the private sector. Brown himself is a veteran, having spent 27 years as an officer in the Army after graduating with a bachelor of science degree from West Point. His tours of duty included Honduras and Iraq, where he commanded the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. At JPMorgan Chase, Brown’s role includes overseeing veterans employment and small business development. As you’ll read below, he’s a passionate advocate not only for veterans, but for the gifts they can bring to the workplace.

What sort of timeline are you looking at for hiring one million veterans?

Throughout the course of the conflicts of the last 12 to 14 years, we’ve routinely been transitioning about 200,000 veterans into civilian jobs from active duty. So I said to the coalition, that’s one million service members over the next five years. So we collectively decided to make that our goal — hire one million veterans — and, when we reach it, then let’s make it two million. We’re also looking to help the coalition have a greater impact by having an exchange of veterans — if, for example, a veteran applies for a job at AT&T, but they don’t have an opening for that person at the moment, they can alert Verizon, in order for that veteran to be hired.

How many veterans has JPMorgan Chase hired?

We’ve hired over 9,500 in recent years. They work in all sectors of our business. We have a three-tiered process for bringing vets into our organization. First, we have recruiters focused on former military members. Eighty percent of these recruiters have been in the military themselves, so they already understand what veterans offer and how to translate their experience into a skill we’re looking for as a firm. Then, once a vet has been hired, we have a sponsorship program that pairs them with a vet who’s been here for a while — that person helps the new hire navigate the organization. And third, we have a veterans business resource group, analogous to a fraternity or sorority, that sponsors events and activities so they can bond with people who share a common experience, commiserate with other vets.

What do vets tend to commiserate about?

First, let me highlight the characteristics that vets bring. The first is leadership. Given the conflicts we as a nation have been in, we have people even in the lowest levels of the military making important decisions. The second is a bias toward problem-solving: I know from personal experience that the challenges you face in the military are dynamic and ever-evolving and the answer is rarely found in a book. The third is teamwork: The military prides itself on being a team of teams. And then there’s character — these are people who volunteered to serve their country knowing full well they’d be sent into combat. And last, they have a bias toward getting things done. Now they find themselves transitioning to these different organizations where they may be a sole contributor rather than a member of a team. In many cases they’ve gone from being empowered to make decisions, even at the lowest level, to situations where they may have very little autonomy.

Another important thing to consider is that in the military, there’s typically a clear career path — an institutional construct for how you will advance, which schools you’ll need to attend, and so on. And there’s often less of that in civilian organizations, where there may not be that same kind of organizational infrastructure. So these are the challenges faced by vets in the civilian workplace, and that’s why being able to commiserate with others with a shared background helps them in that transition.

As a veteran yourself, what sort of qualities most appeal to you in an employer?

What’s important to me are shared values. If I hadn’t felt that the organizational values here at JPMorgan Chase were consistent with my own, then I wouldn’t have joined. Second, I have to feel that whatever business the organization is in, there has to be a commitment to excellence. What attracted me to this job was the opportunity to have a positive impact on peoples’ lives, on veterans’ lives.

Are there some common misperceptions about veterans that can get in the way of them finding work — for example, misconceptions about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder?

This is my perspective, and it’s borne out by statistics: For the majority of vets transitioning today, if they served in combat, they are strengthened by it. They’ve been strengthened by that experience. And that’s the bottom line.

What are the biggest roadblocks standing in the way of veterans finding good jobs?

There needs to be universal acknowledgement that vets are good for business and we need to continue creating pathways for them to be employed. It’s not that there’s no desire to hire them, but what’s the best way to acquire them.

What’s your advice to HR leaders who want their organizations to hire more veterans?

I would suggest they get their companies to join our coalition, The Veterans Jobs Mission, because we offer a support structure to help them employ veterans in whatever industry sector they’re in. We represent a community that shares lessons learned, discusses benefits and opportunities, and so that’s what I’d suggest: Join us.

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Changing Priorities for Recruiters

How different will the world of recruiting look five years from now? If you ask Kevin Wheeler, founder of The Future of Talent Institute in Fremont, Calif., the answer is really different!

ThinkstockPhotos-478800411Wheeler, a self-described “futurist,” told attendees at this week’s Recruiting Trends Conference at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort in Orlando, Fla., that recruiters should brace for dramatic change in the coming months and years.

Among a few of the forces at work in reshaping the recruiting landscape are increased automation and the changing nature of work.

Because of automation, Wheeler said, “mid-level and manufacturing-worker jobs are disappearing,” opening the way for workers who possess significantly higher skill levels.

“I was in Australia a few weeks ago, where they have McDonald’s with no workers in the front of the store,” he recalled. “You order on a kiosk … and they have two employees bring your food out.

”Think of all of those people who work at McDonald’s who won’t have jobs in a few years,” he said.

Wheeler pointed to an Oxford University study titled The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation? showing that telemarketers, accountants and auditors, and retail sales people were among the jobs most at risk of disappearing.

Recruiters, he said, are also going to become much more technologically savvy.

“You probably have read [Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee’s 2011 book] Race Against the Machine — that we’re competing against computers and technology,” he said. But a better way to think about it, he added, is as a race with the machine, because if you end up racing against the machine, you’re going to lose!

Wheeler noted that recruiters are also going to need to get their hands around a workplace that includes many more contract workers. (Gig workers were the subject of a recent HRE cover story titled “The Contingent Quandary.”) When he asked how many of those in the room were involved in selecting contract workers, only a few hands went up. But in the future, he predicted, recruiters are going to need to play a much more active role in advising hiring managers on the merits of bringing in such workers, based on the type of work that needs to be done.

“Forget about culture,” he said. “It’s going to be more about whether or not that person can repair this chair.”

As a result, Wheeler said, recruiters are going to need to possess a different set of skills, such as social intelligence, virtual collaboration, co-creation and cross-cultural competence. “These are going to be core to your survival, not interviewing skills and sourcing skills,” he said. “Computers can do those.”

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Parental Leave Enters Political Storm, Too

Paid parental leave has certainly taken over the media waves of big businesses trying to one-up each other in just how accommodating 510042321-- parents & newbornto new parents they can be. (See our most recent HRE Daily posts on large companies announcing such leave accommodations, including Michael J. O’Brien’s post just Wednesday on Amazon’s plan to up its allotted leave for new parents and allow them to share their paid time with partners not employed there.)

In addition to this race toward better policies, however, paid parental leave has entered a political-football frenzy of late as well. Just as Amazon was making its announcement Monday via a memo to all employees, newly elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was in the news for resisting calls to back a federal paid-family-leave law.

And this despite his outspoken desire to spend more time with his own family, according to this Huffington Post piece and this — far-more critical — piece on dailykos.com, as well as the fact that he provides his own staff with paid family leave.

“Because I love my children and I want to be home on Sundays and Saturdays like most people doesn’t mean I’m for taking money from hardworking taxpayers to create a brand new entitlement program,” Ryan told Meet the Press in a recent taping. He thinks offering such leave is up to employers; it’s their role, not the government’s.

Yes, that’s the common Republican stance — less federal control in favor of more individual control — but personally, says Terri L. Rhodes, CEO of the San Diego-based Disability Management Employer Coalition, the Paul Ryans of the world, as well as most all businesses and politicians from both sides of the aisle, “are all probably thinking mandated paid family leave is a good thing.”

Small and mid-sized businesses, especially, tend to be in favor of a federal mandate, she says, because they can’t necessarily afford the sweeping changes and allowances big businesses can in their attempts to stay one step ahead of their competition.

This mad race is further compounded by the fact that some states — including New Jersey,  California and Rhode Island — already offer some kind of paid family leave, and some states, and many companies, are backing paid sick leave as well.

“For big multi-state or global companies,” says Rhodes, “they can afford to figure how all this fits in with their policies and costs.” They can find a way to make it all work. But for smaller and mid-sized businesses, it’s much more complex “when it comes to considering provisions and accruals” and such.

“If we had a mandated paid leave,” she says, the playing field would be leveled more in terms of “what is expected; it would be more cut-and-dried.”

What’s more, she adds, many large corporations may espouse more liberal parental-leave policies, but don’t actually “support the policy that’s just been announced” when it comes to the corporate culture. The actual taking of the leave may still be frowned upon internally, but the external employer brand comes out smelling like a rose.

The sad reality — in the United States, anyway — is that “having a family still isn’t looked on as a great career path,” Rhodes says. “That’s a problem for everyone” — big business, small business … and Paul Ryan.

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Six HR Leaders Inducted into NAHR

From left: Alexander J. Ogg Jr., Laszlo Bock, Tracy Keogh, Mary George Opperman, Mark Bieger and Joseph A. Bosch.

From left: Alexander J. Ogg Jr., Laszlo Bock, Tracy Keogh, Mary George Opperman, Mark Bieger and Joseph A. Bosch.

The National Academy of Human Resources inducted its 2015 class of Fellows at its annual dinner and installation ceremony Thursday night in New York.

Six HR leaders were recognized by their peers in the academy for their level of achievement, including Mark Biegger, chief HR officer at Procter & Gamble Co.; Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google Inc.; Joseph A. Bosch, former executive vice president and chief HR officer at DirecTV; Tracy Keogh, chief HR officer at HP Inc.; Alexander J. Ogg Jr., operating partner at Blackstone Group; and Mary George Opperman, vice president and chief HR officer at Cornell University.

NAHR Chair Kathleen S. Barclay, who retired from her post as senior vice president of human resources for The Kroger Co. the previous week, pointed out to those attending the Yale Club dinner that the new Fellows have distinguished themselves through their extraordinary leadership.

To date, with the addition of its 2015 class, 163 individuals have been named Fellows in the academy.

Mark Biegger of Procter & Gamble has held various manufacturing, engineering, business services and human resources posts during his career, working and living in both North America and Europe. He’s managed HR in functions, business units and regions—including P&G North America. Biegger, who works closely with P&G’s board on leadership development, has implemented changes to long-standing HR practices within P&G, including a significant transformation of the organization’s performance-management system and major interventions to accelerate progress in talent development and diversity.

Under Laszlo Bock’s leadership, Google Inc. has been recognized more than 100 times in the past five years as an exceptional employer, including being named by Fortune magazine the No. 1 Best Company to Work For in the United States and in 16 other countries . Bock joined Google in 2006 from GE Capital, the financial services arm of General Electric with more than 35,000 employees, where he held various executive-leadership roles. Earlier this year, he  authored a book titled Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead. He was also named HRE’s HR Executive of the Year in 2010.

Joseph Bosch served as the executive vice president and chief HR officer at DirecTV for the last five years. In addition to global HR responsibility for DirecTV’s 33,000 employees, he was responsible for internal communication, corporate citizenship and social responsibility, and diversity and inclusion. As a corporate officer, he reported to the chairman and CEO and played a key role in the successful negotiations and ultimate sale of DirecTV to AT&T last July. Bosch, who was also named to HRE’s HR Honor Roll last month, previously served as the chief HR officer for Centex Corp. and Tenet Healthcare.

Tracy Keogh most recently served as executive vice president of HR for the Hewlett-Packard Co., where she leads HR for the company’s workforce of more than 300,000 employees across 170 countries and more than 600 real-estate locations. After Hewlett-Packard’s separation into HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise on Nov. 1, she was named chief HR officer for HP Inc., which generates $55 billion in revenue and employs more than 50,000 employees in more than 50 countries. Under her leadership, Hewlett-Packard’s HR department redesigned all aspects of the company’s people agenda and revitalized the company’s culture. Keogh, who was also named HRE’s 2015 HR Executive of the Year last month, previously served as senior vice president of HR at Hewitt Associates.

As an operating partner, Sandy Ogg serves the nearly 100 portfolio companies across the different asset classes managed by Blackstone Group. He assists deal teams in the selection and formation of management teams and boards to deliver on investment outcomes. Ogg joined Blackstone in January 2011, after serving for eight years as the chief HR officer for Unilever, based in London. At Unilever, he spearheaded the company’s Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which has become a standard for businesses trying to “do well by doing good.” Prior to joining Unilever, Ogg served as senior vice president for leadership, learning and performance at Motorola.

Mary George Opperman heads HR at Cornell University, which has approximately 20,000 staff and faculty members. Since joining Cornell in 1996, Opperman has grown her portfolio to include oversight of the Division of Human Resources, Inclusion and Workforce Diversity, Environmental Health and Safety, Campus Police, Emergency Management and the Center for Regional Economic Advancement. Prior to joining Cornell, she spent 13 years in the HR function at Harvard University. Under her leadership, Cornell has received numerous workplace awards. These include being named AARP’s top U.S. employer for workers 50 and older two years in a row. She was selected by the editors of HRE as one of the 15 most influential women leaders in HR.

At the dinner, winners of the 2015 NAHR Ram Charan HR Essay Contest were recognized. Taking top prize were Suetta Miller, a student in the masters of HR management program at Houston Baptist University and Brenda A. Barros-Rivera, a Ph.D. student in the HR and organizational-behavior program at Texas A&M. Their paper, titled In the Game—A Contingency Framework of Public Policy, explored HR’s role in influencing public policy.

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Women and the Competitiveness Factor

women competeMany women don’t like to compete with men. That’s the upshot of a number of recent studies summarized today in the Washington Post‘s Wonkblog, which notes that Germany has become the latest country to require large public companies to fill at least 30 percent of their board positions with women (starting next year).

Germany’s new law strikes some as a form of affirmative action that will only taint its beneficiaries as having gotten their positions due to their gender, not their skills and/or accomplishments, writes Wonkblog’s Jeff Guo. However, he writes, a number of studies suggest that even highly qualified women are reluctant to compete — especially with men — and that quotas such as Germany’s may be necessary to ensure that high-performing women feel comfortable putting themselves forward.

Guo quotes Muriel Niederle, an economics professor at the University of Cologne who’s helped conduct a number of studies that found women are eager to compete with other women but much less eager to compete with men. In one such study, conducted in 2013, Niederle and her research colleagues gathered groups of six participants — divided equally between men and women — and gave them equations to solve. The participants had a choice of whether to be paid 50 cents for each problem they solved correctly or enter a competition to get paid many times that.

In a previous study in 2007, the researchers found the women were much less likely than the men to participate in the competition — even the ones who demonstrated an alacrity for solving the equations. This time around, however, the researchers added a twist: The competition would have two winners, and in some cases at least one of the winners was guaranteed to be a woman. Faced with a contest that guaranteed a winning spot to a woman, over 80 percent of women elected to participate in the competition.

These and other studies suggest that quotas mandating that a certain number of spots be set aside for women will help organizations be more competitive, University of Cologne economist Matthias Sutter told Guo.

“We find that quota rules encourage the best women to really go for it,” he said.

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Amazon’s New Approach to Parental Leave

From a public relations—and maybe an employee relations—perspective, it could take a while for Amazon to sweep away all of the debris left behind by this recent New York Times article.

But you can’t say the company isn’t trying.

Last month, the ubiquitous online retailer was back in the news, as it expanded its Amazon Connections program in an effort to solicit more frequent feedback from employees with regard to their job satisfaction, leadership opportunities within Amazon and more.

And, just this week, a number of media outlets have picked up on an Amazon memo sent to employees on Monday, which effectively announced a revamped parental leave policy that increases the amount of paid family leave time available to full-time hourly and salaried employees as well as Amazon’s fulfillment center and customer service workers. The new policy affords birth mothers with up to four weeks of paid pre-partum medical leave, followed by 10 weeks of paid maternity leave. Birth mothers and all other new parents who have been with the company for more than one year can also take a new six-week paid parental leave.

Not all of these reports, however, touched on what seems like an especially unusual aspect of the new policy.

In addition to allotting more paid time off to new mothers at Amazon, the company has also unveiled its “Leave Share” program, which allows eligible employees to share all or some of their six weeks of parental leave with a spouse or partner who doesn’t receive paid leave from his or her employer.

Amazon shared details of Leave Share with the Chicago Tribune, offering an example of how an employee could take advantage of this new benefit.

“Julia is an associate at an Amazon Fulfillment Center and recently had a baby. She’s taken 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and would like to come back to work.

“Ideally, she’d like her husband to take some time off at this point, which would make her return to work easier. However, her husband’s employer provides only unpaid paternity leave, and it’s going to be financially difficult for him to take time off. That’s where the Leave Share Program can help. Julia can share all or a portion of her paid parental leave with her husband, and he can stay home and help with their new baby.”

While this example involves a birth mother, the Leave Share concept works the same way for Amazon fathers and same-sex couples, according to the company.

Of course, Amazon isn’t the first high-profile organization to broaden the scope of its parental leave policy. But it will be interesting to see if other large companies follow suit, and start offering employees the ability to share their paid leave time with spouses and partners.

You can count Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director and CEO of MomsRising.org, among those who think workers should already have such options at their disposal.

In a statement released within hours of Amazon’s Monday memo hitting the media, Rowe-Finkbeiner called for action on a national level to make that happen.

“While we celebrate Amazon.com’s announcement, it is long past time that our elected officials take a comprehensive, national approach that will guarantee that ALL working families will have the ability to earn paid family and medical leave insurance,” she said. “You shouldn’t have to win the ‘boss lottery’ to be covered by this critically important policy that studies show boosts families, businesses and our economy.”

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Google’s Deeper Dive into HR Transparency

In case you missed it late last week, Google unveiled a new site titled  re:Work  with the motto “Let’s Make Work Better” and the promise of sharing “practices, research, and ideas from Google and other organizations to put people first.”

According to this piece on the Washington Post, “the new site will feature research-backed examples of how Google approaches things like hiring and anti-bias training, providing free public tools such as slide decks and checklists that the company uses internally.”

(Details about the site were shared first with the Washington Post.)

While other organizations have been more forthcoming with their internal data than in previous years, “the breadth and level of detail that Google is publicly putting out there—as well as that it is inviting other companies to share—isn’t common,” the story notes.

“What’s especially unusual about it is Google is not only sharing what they’ve learned, but actually trying to get other organizations to do it better too,” said Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton School who has worked jointly with Google on research in the past.

But the Post also notes there may be some skeptics who are questioning the efficacy of Google’s policy, especially in light of their less-than-flattering diversity numbers released earlier this year.

So, to possibly allay those concerns, Google’s senior vice president of people operations (and HRE‘s 2010 HR Executive of the Year) Laszlo Bock writes in an intro to the new site that “we don’t want to just talk about Google, because we know we don’t have all the answers and have gotten a lot of stuff wrong along the way.”

Here’s hoping this new site will indeed help companies get the right stuff right the first time when it comes to HR issues.

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Employees as Social Ambassadors

Though the 2015 18th Annual HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas is behind us now, and early plans are already under way for next 488576383 -- social mediayear’s conference in Chicago, one session from Las Vegas that didn’t get written up on this site deserves to be.

In a Tuesday (Oct. 20) afternoon session, titled Tapping Employees as Social Ambassadors to Strengthen and Grow Your Workforce, Laurie Zaucha, vice president of HR and organizational development for Rochester, N.Y.-based Paychex; and Joe Schaeffer, Paychex’s social-media program manager, double-teamed on a pretty interesting story about how their company turned its employee-engagement levels and employer-brand awareness around with social media.

About five years ago, the term “Paychex Proud” was a little-known theme of an internal company meeting, one intended to grow engagement levels — or at least start the conversation about doing so — but one that wasn’t getting enough attention.

That all changed in early 2014, when Paychex’s HR and marketing forces launched their first small-business jobs index by taking over the Times Square Nasdaq tower in New York and asking employees to do simple show-and-tells (postings that were then aired) on the tower about what made them “Paychex Proud.”

The effort, said Schaeffer, required a good bit of encouragement. Like in many companies, he said, “people didn’t even think they were allowed to go on social sites,” let alone submit posts during business hours.

But submit some did. And as more caught on, and saw the images of Paychex employees broadcast for all New Yorkers to see, posts started flowing in, resulting in 200 overall and reaching 300,000 users.

“The goal was to get that word out,” said Zaucha, “that people at Paychex truly do have fun, that we’re a fun place to work.”

Next on the agenda was the company’s 2014 Paychex Sales Conference, where Zaucha and Schaeffer and their teams were able to enlist the social-media posting energies of HR and marketing staff, and attendees — again, to tell their stories and champion their company as a fun place to work — to the point where, by week’s end, the campaign boasted 2.5 million impressions and more than 1,400 posts.

By encouraging postings about Paychex on all social-media sites, including even Pinterest, said Schaeffer, “we’re seeing our sales people actually becoming more educated about our company; they’re now following us on Twitter and it is a happening.”

Through these two efforts, not only have engagement figures skyrocketed (from 56 percent of people saying they were highly engaged in 2012 to 63 percent saying the same in 2015), but the company’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter followers have also multiplied exponentially.

“If you can figure out a way to harness the art of marketing [into your HR efforts] and have highly engaged employees,” Schaeffer said, “they really can be ambassadors for the company.”


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Keogh Honored as HR Executive of the Year

The Trustee Ballroom at Boston University was the scene for the 27th HR Executive of the Year and Honor Roll awards ceremony and dinner, where Tracy Keogh, executive vice president of human resources at Hewlett-Packard Co., was awarded HRE‘s highest honor.

Also named to the magazine’s Honor Roll were Marcia J. Avedon, senior vice president of human resources, communications and corporate affairs at Ingersoll Rand; Joseph A. Bosch, the former executive vice president and chief HR officer at DIRECTV Enterprises; Sallie Larsen, managing director and chief human capital officer at LPL Financial; and Michelle Link, chief human resources officer at PRA Group Inc.


From left: Sallie Larsen, Marcia J. Avedon, HR Executive of the Year Tracy Keogh, Michelle Link and Joseph A. Bosch.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!

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Retailers: ‘No Thanks’ to Thanksgiving Hours

ClosedREI made news recently with its announcement that its stores will be closed on Black Friday this year. “Instead of reporting to work, we’re paying our employees to do what we love most — be outside,” said REI’s CEO, Jerry Stritzke. The outdoor-apparel retailer’s website won’t be processing customer orders that day, either — instead, the day will be a paid holiday for all of its 12,000 employees, it said.

Seems like a bold move — although retail analysts note that Black Friday isn’t quite the sales juggernaut it used to be, what with the rise of online shopping and deals that are spread throughout November and December. Still, REI’s announcement resonates with a significant portion of the public who’ve expressed outrage at the recent trend among retailers to open early on the evening of, or stay open throughout, Thanksgiving Day itself, requiring employees to work instead of spending time with their families.

Although REI appears to be the only national chain so far that will be closed on Black Friday, at least 24 national retailers have announced they will remain closed on Thanksgiving Day. These stores include GameStop, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Burlington Coat Factory, Jo-Ann Stores, BJ’s, Costco and Nordstrom.

Could REI be shooting itself in its (Teva hiking sandal-clad) foot? Black Friday is still very important for retailers, even for REI — spokeswoman Stephanie Hettick told The Oregonian that it’s one of the top sales days for the company. But REI is also making sure it’s getting massive publicity for its decision: It’s created a website, optoutside.rei.com, as well as hashtags on Twitter to encourage shoppers to be outside on Black Friday (did I note that REI sells outdoor merchandise?) rather than clogging store aisles.

“Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside,” said Stritzke in a press release. Hmmm, maybe he’s on to something.

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