Seattle – Officials said that the president and CEO of the REI outdoor equipment retailer had resigned for failing to disclose a relationship that he had with the head of another organization in the outdoor sector. .
REI officials at the cooperative's headquarters in Kent, Washington, said Tuesday that Jerry Stritzke had resigned and would leave on March 15th.
According to a statement from the company, the resignation comes after an external investigation on "a personal and consensual relationship". The partner organization has not been identified.
"The investigation was conducted by an external law firm and overseen by the board of directors," REI's release said. "He also carefully assessed the working relationship between the REI Co-operative and the partner organization and found that there was no financial misconduct.The Board is furthermore convinced that their expectations of how the two organizations should work together were met.
Stitzke resigned because he "admits that the facts allowed him to perceive a conflict of interest, which he should have disclosed under REI's Conflict of Interest Policy." , which forces every REI executive to apply the highest standards of conduct, "the company added.
Steve Hooper, chairman of REI's board of directors, said that since Stritzke became CEO in 2013, he and a strong team have always produced outstanding results.
Stritzke apologized to the employees in a letter, saying he was sorry he did not reveal the relationship. REI's chief operating officer, Eric Artz, will become Acting General Manager.
Although sexual harassment does not seem to be a problem in the REI case, what happened is still an indicator of the increased sensitivity of US businesses to #MeToo's age – even in regarding consensual relations.
"Boards have zero tolerance policies for sexual harassment and even crack down on consensual relationships, especially between leaders who may have some perceived or real professional power over the other person," Andrew said. Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Noël, in a press release.
"For employees who wish to pursue a relationship at work," he added, "the communication of clear policies and guidelines is essential to creating a safe environment for successful relationships as well as successful decoupling."