By Sona Senapati, Berkeley-Haas Center for Responsible Business, Student Editorial Writer

The Center for Responsible Business at Berkeley-Haas and the Dean’s Office recently hosted Vincent Stanley, Chief Storyteller for the renowned clothing brand, Patagonia, for an informative fireside chat. From MBA students, to Haas faculty and alumni, to the curious public, it was clear there were several different demographics of people who gathered in the Wells Fargo Room to hear the noteworthy remarks of Stanley. Also known as the Director of Patagonia Philosophy, Stanley has been with Patagonia since its inception. As an installment in the Peterson Speaker Series and Dean’s Speaker Series, this interview style chat consisted of acclaimed Haas professor, Sara Beckman, inquiring about the sustainable and responsible practices Patagonia utilizes to assure quality products while simultaneously preserving the delicate nature of our climate. The Dean of the Haas School of Business, Rich Lyons, and Exec. Director of the CRB, Robert Strand were immensely gratified to have maintained such a humbling and close relationship with Stanley and Patagonia.

Patagonia actively distinguishes itself from other companies by incorporating sustainable activities into everyday life, indicating admirable long-term goals for the organization for many years to come. During the chat, Vincent Stanley immediately delved into how the culture of Patagonia plays a vital role in realizing these goals of sustainability. Engagement within the communities Patagonia targets and insurance of continued loyalty from employees, epitomizes what it means to be a company that truly cares about its impact on society. As a company, Patagonia consistently questions the status quo of business through various measures discussed below.

Supply Chain Management
Sara Beckman presented a very warranted question regarding the maintenance of the company’s inherent connection to nature. How does Patagonia’s specific supply chain act accordingly to their sustainable motives? Stanley reviewed the metrics of a distant supply chain and how more knowledge can be held about the sewing factories and less is known about the mills and dye houses. As a result, there are limitations on knowledge about general impact of the products. For Patagonia, these limitations simply incite motive to gain deeper understanding about production processes and ultimately uncover more depth about all aspects of the supply chain. He went on to discuss how Patagonia conducted its first labor audit of secondary suppliers to find components of human trafficking present. Conclusively speaking, it was a major priority to alleviate the tensions of this issue with direct communication and consistent audits.

Taking a Proactive View
As a company that inspires longevity and loyalty, it is important to understand the goal setting process for Patagonia. “On the environmental and social front, we have a team that meets religiously regarding these issues”, Vincent Stanley described about the process, referred to as the “Footprint Meeting”. Setting benchmarks and creating lists of goals that would likely be accomplished sooner rather than later, were only a few of the tactics adopted in setting these objectives in motion. In the past decades, it was unconventional for companies to hire environmental engineers with the sole purpose of assessing climate risk from production. It was 1991 when Patagonia brought their first environmental engineer onboard and since then, appraising potential environmental hazards have been a top priority.

Patagonia Culture
One of the major things that sets Patagonia apart from other companies of its kind is the unique culture it maintains. A truly substantial example of this is the implementation of on-site child care facilities for the working employees that were incorporated to alleviate any potential personal issues. On-site facilities promote healthier family life which in turn provides incentive to employees of Patagonia to produce exquisite products through sustainable manners. Patagonia sets its sights on consistently practicing responsible methods of manufacturing, in addition to ensuring that employees are treated with the utmost respect. Aside from leaving a positive environmental impact on the world, Vincent Stanley ardently discussed how Patagonia truly does aspire to effect social change for generations to come.

Closing Remarks
As a young woman, aspiring to explore business, hearing Vincent Stanley’s remarks on a company as renowned as Patagonia was truly inspiring. The legacy that Stanley will leave behind by being a part of something as monumental as Patagonia is truly admirable; ultimately, it sets a benchmark for the work that future generations will complete. I found that the versatility of the audience was interesting in that the many different age demographics all had a common goal of understanding how they can adopt sustainability into the several projects they choose to pursue.

The full interview with Vincent Stanley can be viewed here.

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