With the inauguration looming, numerous events are popping up in response to it, including the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21st, in which 200,000 people are expected to attend in Washington D.C. Among those committed to the protest is Donna Carpenter, Burton’s CEO, who is offering to help pay for her employees to attend. In an effort to help subsidize travel costs to get from Burton’s base in Burlington, VT down to Washington D.C., Donna is offering up two nights in a hotel and $250 towards flights. Her husband, Jake Burton Carpenter, is helping with gas money and goodie bags.
Donna, who took assumed the CEO position at Burton in December 2015, sat down with a women’s magazine to talk about why she is doling out funds for people to attend.
In the interview posted on Thursday, Donna said, “I knew there would be a lot of Burton women who were making the effort to get down to Washington. They’re that type of people. We’re in Vermont, in Bernie-land. I had a lot of employees who were volunteering for Bernie [Sanders]. But it’s a long way from Burlington to Washington, D.C. For me, it’s all about numbers. What they need are numbers to make a point.”
When asked why this issue is so important and why she’s making a stand, Donna talked about her work on gender equality at Burton and how she’s been tackling it for the past 13 years. “It’s been a passion of mine to find more women leaders internally and externally, and to make sure that women feel that they’re as much a part of the snowboarding community as men are,” said Donna.
“Thirteen years ago, less than 10 percent of our leaders were women and now it’s over 40 percent. My senior team is fifty-fifty. It’s made us a better company. All the men appreciate that we’re more family-friendly, and that we’ve started to look at employees more holistically. When you address women’s issues, you address work-life balance and quality of life. But the election felt like a slap in the face. At a company meeting in December, I spoke out and said that we might live in a not-so-polite America now, but we can treat each other with respect and inclusion. We can have an impact on our own workplaces if we double down on our efforts. Offering to help my employees go to the march felt like a natural extension of this philosophy. I’m going to put my money where my mouth is,” Donna explained.
Currently, around 25-30 Burton employees are planning to make the trek to Washington D.C. for the march, and you better bet that Donna will be leading the charge.
You can check out the full interview with Donna here.