Wikipedia.org defines it as “…a concept whereby organizations consider the interest of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers… employees…as well as the environment.” “…voluntarily taking further steps to improve the quality of life for employees and their families, as well as for the local community and society at large.” (Hinton + Grushich. 2010).
Headquartered in Ventura, CA, Patagonia is a US-based outdoor clothing and apparel brand that was founded in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard, an avid mountaineer, and rock climber. Chouinard designed his own equipment that would cause less harm after realizing that his climbing equipment was damaging rock faces. He soon started marketing his metal spikes. His concern for the environment became the Patagonia brand’s guiding principle.
Patagonia, a pioneer in eco-friendly outdoor apparel, places a strong emphasis on its brand values and designs its advertising to support environmental protection rather than business growth. The underlying core values that underpin all campaigns are as follows:
- Build the best product
- Cause no unnecessary harm
- Use business to protect nature
Almost every day, Patagonia posts new content to its social media sites. To prevent becoming redundant, they alter the content between their accounts. They not only share fantastic outdoor photographs, but also a ton of information about the environmental crisis we are currently experiencing. Their website and all their social media pages feature extensive material. The intention is to bring ecological challenges to the forefront for the viewer and consumer through social media, and they offer ways to act on their website. While their social media is informative rather than interactive, their website does encourage people to get involved. Patagonia Action Works supports grassroots groups by offering a selection of ways to sign up and help based on their location. Patagonia donates a portion of its revenue to environmental causes (Thangavelu, 2020).
While Patagonia has not come up against any illegal bad practices, it has failed to fully execute due diligence with its suppliers’ practices. Patagonia discovered in 2011 that some of its suppliers subjected their employees to appalling conditions, including demanding that they pay hundreds of dollars merely to work. To secure a job in Taiwan, migrant workers must pay a “broker” to help them find a position (Hensel, 2020). In response to this discovery, Patagonia implemented employment standards for its suppliers who employ migrant workers. The full migrant guideline can be found here: https://patagonia.typepad.com/files/migrant_worker_employment_standards.pdf
All companies struggle with the balance between profit and purpose. Patagonia has had some missteps but takes the initiative to right wrongs and strategize how to do better. Among its efforts to do better, at last year’s COP26, Patagonia announced that it no longer wants to call itself a “sustainable brand”, recognizing that despite its efforts, it’s still very much part of the problem. The brand now aims to reduce its footprint further, by cutting emissions throughout its supply chain (Wolfe, 2022).
Also in 2021, Patagonia received a score of 51-60% on the Fashion Transparency Index. Some of its supply chain is certified by FLA Workplace Code of Conduct and Fair Trade USA in the final stage of production (Wolfe, 2022).
Patagonia’s commitment to CRS is commendable and it is one of the better companies in the clothing industry. It can definitely be said that Patagonia is green for the environment.
Hinton + Grushich. (Jan 2010). One Smooth Stone Corporate Social Responsibility. https://www.slideshare.net/gvlk/one-smooth-stone-corporate-social-responsibility-2907719
Patagonia. (2021). Core Values. https://www.patagonia.com/mx/core-values/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Non%20Brand%20-%20Dynamic%20Search%20-%20Catch%20All&utm_content=alwayson&gclid=Cj0KCQjw8p2MBhCiARIsADDUFVEHEmV47e0IZjdrwBr6N72zjvS0WpGYYA5EAAJWn46SRrH_-5GyfY8aAqv3EALw_wcB
Thangavelu, Poonkulali. (Feb 2020). The Success of Patagonia’s Marketing Strategy. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/070715/success-patagonias-marketing-strategy.asp
Hensel, Anna. (2022). What Patagonia Did When It Found Human Slaves in Its Supply Chain. https://www.inc.com/anna-hensel/patagonia-pledges-to-implement-higher-standards-in-factories.html
Wolfe, Isobella. (Feb 2022). How Ethical Is Patagonia? Good on you. https://goodonyou.eco/how-ethical-is-patagonia/
Kardes, F., Cronley, M., & Cline, T. (2020). Consumer Behavior (2nd Edition). Cengage Learning US. https://mbsdirect.vitalsource.com/books/9781305161689