At our recent Boardroom Summit, hosted by our sister publication Corporate Board Member we honored the board of Dick’s Sporting Goods with our Courage in the Boardroom award for their stand ending the sale of firearms in stores in the wake of a 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
As part of the program, I got a chance to interview Chairman and CEO Ed Stack, who, as you probably know, announced Tuesday that he is retiring as CEO of the company (he’ll remain chairman) he built over 35 years. When we talked in early Fall, he was warm, moving, principled and passionate as he told the story of how and why he and his management team made the decision–an expensive decision—and how they worked it out with the board.
“When you look back at the culture of the company, this is the only decision we could have made because everything that we’ve ever done in our business has been focused around kids, the development of kids to play sports and all the life lessons that they learned from sports,” he said.
“And our management team never wavered. One bit. Our board never wavered. One bit. We had a thorough discussion about it, but never wavered one bit. And a year later, even after it had cost us a lot of business, it was a difficult time from a sales and earnings standpoint around this, on the one year anniversary, we talked with our management team and our board, and we all decided unequivocally, we do it all over again.
I also asked him about the biggest takeaways for him from 2020. Increasingly, he said, he felt it was imperative the business community must take a stronger leadership role in the United States.
“There’s not a lot of leadership coming out of Washington on either side of the aisle,” he told me. “So many people have talked about, and I agree, that true leadership in the country today is coming out of the private sector.
“It’s really incumbent upon the private sector to lead and fill this leadership vacuum, whether it’s around the pandemic, whether it’s around social unrest and social injustice, we can do an awful lot. And if we, as companies, get together and really make a commitment around social injustice, I think that we can make we can make a lot of strides in making this country a better place to live. A more just place. It’s still a pretty good place. It’s a great place, but we’ve got some issues. We’ve got to just kind of, we’ve got to try to deal with these issues, solve them. It’s incumbent upon the private sector to lead the way, because we’re not getting much out of Washington right now.”
I hope you enjoy the interview, and we wish good luck to Ed Stack, and to his team.