Patagonia: Leader of Corporate Social Responsibility
By Claire Thompson, Account Executive
Through its strong conservation efforts and cutting-edge campaigns, Patagonia is a leader in the realm of corporate social responsibility. Cara Chacon, Director of Social and Environmental Responsibility at Patagonia says, “the ultimate goal of Patagonia’s Corporate Responsibility Program is to help our factories find lasting solutions to improve the working conditions for the employees that are making Patagonia’s products.” To do this, they have a four-fold screening approach where they look at:
Its main mission statement is “we’re in the business to save our home planet” and they aim to use its resources to do so. Since they were founded in 1973, Patagonia has donated over $185 million to nonprofit environmental groups and conservation efforts.
One of Patagonia’s most groundbreaking campaigns was its “Don’t Buy This Jacket” ad that ran in the New York Times on Black Friday in 2011. It was an unorthodox marketing approach, “seemingly eschewing profit for the sake of purpose.” So, why did they do it?
Because they wanted to address the issue of consumerism head on.
For a business that paradoxically needs consumerism but also rejects it, this may seem like a hypocritical advertisement. But, that’s where Patagonia’s Common Threads Initiative comes in. This initiative asks customers not to buy something unless they need it, to repair what breaks, and to reuse or resell the items they no longer wear. In order for businesses like Patagonia to sell products while still supporting the effort to consume less, they need to produce higher quality products that will last longer, which will reduce overall consumption over time.
Customers need to think twice before they purchase – that is what Patagonia was getting at. They acknowledge that they are a business, and to be successful, they need to make and sell products. But as part of its mission “to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” Patagonia also wants to encourage customers “to think before they buy.” According to Patagonia, “to reduce environmental damage, we all have to reduce consumption as well as make products in more environmentally sensitive, less harmful ways.” The company claims, “it’s not hypocrisy for us to address the need to reduce consumption.”
Ultimately, through its significant conservation efforts and cutting-edge campaigns like the “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign, Patagonia is a leader in the realm of corporate social responsibility.