Taking the safe route in business is usually the easiest. But Patagonia is flipping a traditional, more conservative approach on its head. The sustainable clothing retailer proves that being a pioneer can land you at the top.
The company is becoming the gold standard for a forward-thinking, progressive approach to HR and business in general. In addition to their efforts to completely modernize their approach to performance management, they’ve made headlines several times over the past few months for (among other things) donating Black Friday sales to charity, providing on-site childcare at its headquarters, working toward fair trade in its factories around the world and actively listening to employee needs. In case you’ve missed it, here are some ways that Patagonia is taking chances that are paying off:
While the company originally projected to make $2M on Black Friday, the retailer actually hauled in $10M in sales. Patagonia will donate profits to “hundreds of grassroots environmental organizations.” Its commitment to sustainability and transparency runs through many of its HR practices, which seems to be translating into increased sales.
Patagonia also made headlines recently for its longstanding practice of offering on-site childcare to its employees. In fact the 30+ years-old program has come “full circle” with one man whose mother brought him to work at Patagonia as a child now working as an apparel designer for the company. The company understands that providing a healthy balance between work and your personal life leads to happier, more engaged employees on the job.
Patagonia is taking critical steps toward making fair trade a scalable business reality. As said in the video linked above, “We’re not here just to make a product, it’s about sending a message to the world so that eventually no factory has workers who are exploited. It should not be tolerated in this day and age. We need to keep the pressure on so that every brand is doing this.”
Patagonia’s VP of Human Resources, Dean Carter, understood that when an employee chooses to leave a company, they’re leaving clues long beforehand. So to prevent talented employees from walking out the door, Patagonia actively listens to their feedback and monitors sentiment. What’s more important than hearing what employees want? Not hearing anything at all. Carter and his team are creating a workplace culture where transparency is crucial, and as a result, turnover is almost nonexistent.
Does your company take a safer approach to both business and HR initiatives? Do you see a risk in actually playing it safe for too long?