Meaningful Companies

How to manage a company with a purpose? We talk about it with Vincent Stanley, Head of Philosophy of Patagonia

On Tuesday, June 24th, 2019 we had the pleasure of hosting Debra Dunn, Professor at Stanford University and member of the Board of Directors of B Lab at the Davines Village; Nora Gallagher, Environmental Strategist of Patagonia and Vincent Stanley, Head of Philosophy of Patagonia.

image of a woman climbing a snowy mountians, the word Patagonia

Who is Patagonia?

Patagonia, an American company specialized in the production of outdoor sportswear, has always been a source of inspiration for Davines and an integral part of the B-Corp movement. Like us, Patagonia puts sustainability at the heart of its way of doing business and within the Davines Talks format, we wanted to involve our guests and President Davide Bollati in a conversation on the theme Meaningful companies: how to run a company with a purpose.

The first mission

Patagonia wrote its first mission in 1991: "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis" or "Make the best products, do not create damage that can be avoided, use the business to inspire and develop solutions to face environmental crises.

The new purpose

Recently, however, Patagonia has felt the need to renew itself by placing more and more the urgent need to stop climate change. The new purpose has therefore become: 

"We are in business to save our planet, our home."

a patagonia storefront window

The power of words

This is a very strong and creative statement. Norah Gallagher, Environmental Strategist of Patagonia, told us that during the internal meeting to present the new mission, a strong positive energy was immediately generated: 

enviromental themed displays in a patagonia store

"It was a very intense emotion", - Norah explained - "it always amazes me how it is It is possible to create involvement and passion with words alone, everyone has felt personally engaged and asked us: 'Okay, I'm there, tell me what to do.' And our answer was: 'This is up to you' because everyone, in his own small way can do something. Everyone can choose which field to engage in and no gesture is irrelevant.'"

The message was so strong that, in just a few months and in almost total autonomy, all the stores made the new purpose their own. The statement was displayed in the speakers or in the shop windows, translated into all the languages ​​of the world. Each store manager communicated to its customers the change in mission, so as to involve the whole community.

Let us be inspired

"For our brand," - added Vincent Stanley, Head of Philosophy in Patagonia - "it is essential to inspire. It is necessary that our commitment is communicated and shared by everyone: from management to employees, to our customers. The message must be central for all and it is not a foregone conclusion: it is necessary to educate to sustainability, to do it now for our future: we must have a pole star, have a longer perspective."

What alternative?

"It is so," - reiterated Norah - "the current capitalist system is destroying our planet and we need alternatives. We are here, at Davines Village, and it is as if we were in a picture from the future: we can work better, things can be different. Davines must be a model and a source of inspiration for other companies that will have to say: 'I also want to be like this.'"

enviromental facts on a board in a patagonia store

The future is in our hands

"I also believe in an alternative system. I live and work in Silicon Valley," - said Debra Dunn, a professor at Stanford University - "which is considered by many to be the center of greed, of that business world that does not want to have a good idea for the good of the world, but only to make money fast. Yet at Stanford there are many young people working to build alternatives, a sustainable business model rich in values."

Improve the world through business

"Exactly, because we must never forget,"- concluded Vincent - "that businessmen are always men in the first place. Some may have as their first goal to make as much money as possible, but most entrepreneurs are led by a another idea: to do something you love, to improve your life and the world in which you live."

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