Patagonia: aligning values and workforcePosted: 10/21/2010
Patagonia is a leading designer, distributor, and retailer of high quality, technical outdoor clothing and gear. They are based in Ventura, California, but also have a major facility in Reno, Nevada, a manufacturing facility in Japan, and retail outlets around the world. Patagonia received numerous awards for its working culture, including 2000 WORKFORCE Optimas Award and the 2010 Top Small Company workplace award. Patagonia is routinely listed on lists of the top companies to work for, including a list produced by Working Mother that judges companies on how friendly they are to working mothers. What makes Patagonia such a great place to work for? In a word, it comes down to the company’s integrity. The company has clear values, and treats both its employees, its customers, and the environment in line with those values.
Patagonia’s mission statement reads: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
Their core values are:
Quality (the pursuit of ever greater quality in everything we do)
Integrity (relationships built on integrity and respect)
Environmentalism (serve as a catalyst for personal and corporate action)
Not Bound by Convention (our success – and much of the fun – lies in developing innovative ways of doing things).
As a company, Patagonia has very distinctive strategic objectives, which come from their mission and values. They want to build high quality gear, to the specifications of the most demanding customers and operating environments. At the same time, Patagonia also wants to “cause no unnecessary harm” – it wants to minimize the impact of its products on the environment, and it wants to strive as a company to make positive contributions to the environment. It wants to conduct itself in an unconventional manner – with complete integrity, by being honest and transparent with its customers on how it operates. It also wants to create unconventional solutions to help achieve its objectives.
These strategic objectives are achieved through the work of Patagonia’s employees. In fact, Patagonia’s former HR director told Workforce Magazine earlier this year that the company identifies its culture in its employees, not the other way around. Patagonia nurtures its workforce success by hiring employees that are enthusiasts of its products and the sports they are made for, and committed environmentalists. Patagonia provides opportunities for its employees to get outdoors with flexible work schedules. It also offers employees the opportunity to work on environmental internships around the world. Patagonia thus expects, and creates the opportunities for employees to embody its values in and out of the workplace. Patagonia values unconventional tactics as well as transparency, and the company encourages its employees to pursue projects such as The Cleanest Line, a blog for employees, customers and enthusiasts to communicate on, as well as The Footprint Chronicles, an employee inspired examination of the environmental impact of Patagonia products. Finally, the company expects to produce a world-class quality product, and provides world-class quality benefits to the employees that make the product. Integrity, which is one of Patagonia’s core values, is visible in the way the company speaks, but also acts – it lives up to its ideals.