PSFK attended NYU's Social Innovation Symposium to hear how companies are striving to create social value

One takeaway from the current presidential's administration is that consumers are holding businesses to a higher, different standard. With social media and other advocacy tools easily available, when consumers see businesses involved in activity they do not approve of, they will respond through boycotts or other means.

Today more than ever, consumers demand more transparency and ethical practices from companies. Patagonia is one company known for its high standards when it comes to quality products and ethical procedures. From its fruition, the founders focused on creating a company that was for their consumers and for the earth.

PSFK had the opportunity to hear Rick Ridgeway, VP of Public Engagement of Patagonia and the Founding Chairman of the Sustainable Apparell Coalition talk about Patagonia's mission, success and how they live up to their standards.

From the onset, he explains that Patagonia always saw a link between their products and environmental protection. Therefore, their mission statement and their metric for success revolves around not only earning a profit, but also giving back. Ridgeway explained the three main parts of Patagonia's mission:

1 & 2. To make the best product and do it without causing no unnecessary harm.

3. Use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

Patagonia meets this straightforward goal in a variety of ways. Like any good company, Patagonia ensures their employees have great benefits and flexible working habits, while promoting diversity and inclusion. They also give their employees paid time off to actually engage in volunteering for nonprofits that work on alleviating environmental problems. Patagonia wants to utilize business to support civil society. They also give a yearly minimum of 1% of their sales to support the natural environment. Over 800 nonprofits have benefited from these funds.

Patagonia also constantly keeps an eye on their supply chain. From visiting farms to checking factories, Patagonia wants to ensure that their suppliers are on par with their own ethical standards. They want to make sure that all aspects of their business is transparent to consumers, building trust. Other measures include creating products that last as long as possible by using quality materials. Their product motto is “resell, repair and recycle.” Currently, they are working on a site where people can purchase repaired and recycled Patagonia clothing for low prices. They also offer extensive services that allow people to repair their worn out clothing. Durable clothing is what makes the lowest environmental impact.

Additionally, Patagonia meets their personal good business criteria by partnering up with other companies to encourage sustainable practices. A few years ago, they partnered up with Walmart to help them create a more sustainable, eco-friendly supply chain. In general, Patagonia is known to share information on how they run their eco-friendly business. They also acknowledge some of their struggles with trying to improve and maintain their business. Despite some of these difficulties Ridgeway explains that they remind themselves of their duty, “Our only moral response is to do something about the environment.”

Patagonia has managed to successfully hold fast onto their brand's story and connect it to philanthropy. Ridgeway ended his talk by stating, “All of us can choose in our lives to buy products and services from companies who are not only committed to the shareholder, but also stakeholder values. Commit to these values transparently.” It is never too late for a business to work on creating social value to build its business, reputation and its consumer base. Creating a profit is no longer the only criteria that needs to be met.

Patagonia

One takeaway from the current presidential's administration is that consumers are holding businesses to a higher, different standard. With social media and other advocacy tools easily available, when consumers see businesses involved in activity they do not approve of, they will respond through boycotts or other means.

Today more than ever, consumers demand more transparency and ethical practices from companies. Patagonia is one company known for its high standards when it comes to quality products and ethical procedures. From its fruition, the founders focused on creating a company that was for their consumers and for the earth.