Patagonia was founded in 1957 by Yvon Chouinard who defines himself as a reluctant business man. He started his business as a way to climb and surf year long, seeking to build the best product to satisfy his passion. “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” –Patagonia's Mission Statement
Patagonia grew out of a small company that made tools for climbers. Alpinism remains at the heart of a worldwide business that still makes clothes for climbing as well as for skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, paddling and trail running. Customers are willing to pay a premium for the Patagonia brand and environmental ethic. The company's goal is as simple as it is challenging: to produce the highest-quality products while doing the least possible harm to the environment. Yvon Chouinard founder and owner of Patagonia has done business differently since the beginning of the company, placing environmental sustainability and social welfare of his employee before profit. Three examples of the company practice will show how marketing and business can meet ethical behavior. 2
Patagonia: a different workplace environment
Patagonia is hiring only passionate people (friends, family…) who are also product user so they don’t have to understand the customer because they are the customer. Patagonia has developed the Let My People Go surfing flextime policy to cope with the employee passion (surfing, backcountry skiing…). There are no private offices and the architectural layout keep communication opens. The cafeteria where employees can gather throughout the day serves healthy, mostly vegetarian food. The company has also an on-site child care center, the presence of children playing in the yard, or having lunch with their parents in the cafeteria helps keep the company atmosphere more familial than corporate. Patagonia has a program that allows employees to take off up to two...
References: Chouinard, Y. (2005). Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. New York, NY: Penguin Press HC.
Leonard, A. (2010). The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change. New York, NY: Free Press Simon & Schuster.
Reinhard L, F. (2000). Down to earth: applying business principles to environmental management. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.
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