Patagonia: Let My People Go Surfing

Patagonia has experienced exceptional success throughout their 45 years in business, and is a globally-recognised, household name. As an environmentally conscious climbing & outdoor gear specialist the business has prioritised sustainability from the start; both in the internal and natural environment.

“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

Patagonia’s responsible mission statement is impossible to misinterpret and has a positive impact on both employees and customers. Founder and leader Yvon Chouinard, details his intention for the culture of Patagonia in his book ‘Let My People Go Surfing’ and the title says it all. Perks at Patagonia align with its purpose: getting people outside. These include surfing at lunch time, relaxed attire, flexible working hours, frequent three-day weekends and an on-site creche to name a few, but the advantages go much further. Innovation, loyalty and creativity thrive due to an open-plan office policy. Turnover is kept ‘freakishly low’ by consistently asking for and acting on employee feedback. 50% of Patagonia employees are women and the company saves $335,000 annually by ensuring 95% of Mothers return after maternity leave.* Flexible work is encouraged ‘…as long as the work gets done’ which means productivity and morale is high.

By doing good the company does well and is genuine in it’s effort. Big brands such a Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A have event sent in teams to understand more about how Patagonia’s holistic sustainability strategies.

This people and planet-first approach has led to the brand being able to flex, pivot and contribute meaningfully to environmental causes, securing the loyalty of customers as well as employees. On Black Friday 2016, Patagonia donated 100% of sales to grassroots organisations – an initiative led by employees. Within 24 hours, the company raised $10million and welcomed 24,000 new customers. In 2018 Patagonia is generated $355.7million in revenue and, in tandem, was recognised by The B Corporation as a “Best for the World” honouree and 2018 . Bcorps in the UK – companies with a recognised triple-bottom line – are growing 28 times faster than the national economic growth. Sustainable businesses place the future of their people, profits and the planet at the heart of their commercial strategy, and are all the better for it.

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