REI’s New Legal Chief Eyes Diversity Initiatives for Law Firms

Recreational Equipment Inc. has recruited a new legal group leader eager to make diversity, equity, and inclusion part of her mandate at the outdoor apparel and equipment retailer popularly known as REI.

A. Minnie Alexander was announced Monday as general counsel and corporate secretary for the company, which operates as a cooperative owned and operated by members. She spent almost six years as an associate general counsel for the Walt Disney Co., where she led its trademark and corporate intellectual property team.

It was REI’s internal and external commitment to racial equity, diversity, and inclusion—REDI—that enticed Alexander to make the move, she said in an email.

“This commitment flows through to the REI legal team and the way we practice law,” said Alexander, who has been a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization that promotes legal industry inclusion. “Externally, law firms representing REI are expected to have initiatives in place to advance REDI in the legal profession.”

Alexander said she couldn’t discuss the particulars of REI’s diversity and inclusion efforts—an increasingly important metric in both the corporate and legal worlds—until after she starts at the company May 31.

The former Dorsey & Whitney associate spent more than 13 years at the Campbell Soup Co., where she rose to the level of chief IP counsel.

New Diversity Leader

Alexander succeeds Wilma Wallace as REI’s general counsel.

Wallace, who spent more than two decades in-house at Gap Inc. prior to joining REI in 2017, was promoted last year to become the company’s first chief legal, diversity, and social impact officer. She didn’t respond to a request for comment.

After Wallace was appointed to her new role last year, REI said it would look to foster a more inclusive, antiracist, and multicultural organization in the overwhelmingly White outdoor equipment sector.

REI said Alexander will oversee the management, development, and operations of its legal division and help the company implement its strategies by “integrating legal considerations” into its “framework, plans, execution.” Alexander will also help REI ensure compliance with its cooperative business model and advocate for the interests of its members, the company said.

REI touts its commitment to workplace wellness initiatives and sustainability.

The coronavirus pandemic led the retailer to revamp some of its business practices.

REI agreed in 2020 to sell a corporate campus it never used in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, Wash., for roughly $390 million to Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. Another former REI corporate headquarters in nearby Kent, Wash., was sold that same year for almost $25 million.

REI, like fellow Seattle-based company Starbucks Corp., which recently reshuffled its legal leadership, is also facing a unionization drive by some employees.

In March, workers at an REI flagship store in New York City became the first at the company to vote in favor of a union.

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/business-and-practice/reis-new-legal-chief-eyes-diversity-initiatives-for-law-firms