The Outdoor Industry Association has turned this idea on its head. I’ll admit, until I heard OIA’s Jennifer Pringle give a keynote address at the recent Marketing and Innovation Campsight event, I had never heard the term “pre-competitive.”
As the trade association that advocates for the outdoor industry, OIA created the Sustainability Working Group, a sub-group of companies working together to share best practices and make sure that their products contain less chemicals, are more durable, treat animals well, pollute less, and are produced by employees earning a fair wage in respectable working conditions, all while making a profit for their owners or shareholders.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Nikki Hodgson (pictured), OIA’s Sustainable Business Innovation Manager, someone who’s dedication is obvious. When I asked why she is passionate about sustainability, her response gets to the core of why these people are able to set competition to the side and come together for the greater good: “At its most basic, I believe sustainability is the practice of asking ourselves, “how do we do this better?” and that’s something I feel we should be asking ourselves personally and professionally every single day.”
In coordination with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and using measurement tools from the likes of Patagonia, Walmart and Nike, the Higg Index was developed. The index is “a suite of tools that enables brands, retailers, and facilities of all sizes — at every stage in their sustainability journey — to accurately measure and score a company or product’s sustainability performance. The Higg Index delivers a holistic overview that empowers businesses to make meaningful improvements that protect the well-being of factory workers, local communities, and the environment.” This video gives a great overview of the what and the why when it comes to OIA’s work on the Higg Index:
Think about this. In most industries players keep their cards close to their chest, keeping secret any new technology they’ve developed in order to get a competitive advantage. But here we have straight up direct competitors, literally sitting down at the same table and sharing what they are doing in an effort to be, well, GOOD HUMAN BEINGS. In an age of division and confrontation, these people are setting aside their own interests for the interests of all. It is truly a unique situation in the business world, an attitude that we could benefit from and I applaud them for doing what they can to make the world a better place.