21. Geographic Expeditions

Adventure-travel operator

LOCATION: San Francisco, CA
BEST PERKS: Travel, Flex time, Community & environmental support
HIRING? No. geoex.com

One of the pioneers of adventure travel, Geographic Expeditions offers a spectacularly varied roster of overland tours, treks, walks, and expeditionary voyages to the world’s most beguiling places. We have operated all over the world for 30 years and specialize in getting our travelers to places that are difficult or impossible to reach on one’s own. Our groups are small, our leaders expert, and our passion for out-of-the-way travel intense. Our office is situated in the Presidio of San Francisco, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, within the Thoreau Center of Sustainability.

We pride ourselves on having an enlightened and embracing culture, based on transparency and respect. We have a Culture Committee that organizes an ongoing series of events such as movie screenings, potluck cuisines-of-the-world parties, workday volunteer projects, and whitewater-rafting excursions that are enthusiastically attended by staffers. All new employees are taken to lunch by our CEO and our Chairman in order to immediately facilitate personal connection; other staff members are invited to join these luncheons as well. We have monthly staff meetings and regular retreats at which all staff members interact and share ideas with management. We always have a staff representative, chosen on a rotating basis, at our board-of-directors meetings. That staff representative reports to the Board on issues raised by staff and reports back to the staff on the board meeting.

Though we are a small company, we offer a full range of big-company compensation and benefits. We have a peer-recognition “Staff Person of the Quarter” program that awards a free airline ticket each quarter to a chosen employee nominated by co-workers. We also regularly present gifts to staff in recognition of exceptional performance. Other perks have included a massage therapist brought in to give chair massages for all staff, parties to acknowledge staff members, and chocolates and other treats spontaneously brought to staff members at their desks by our senior vice-president. For members of our geographic teams, we also offer a margin profit-sharing program and a quarterly portfolio sales program. And we offer all employees an employee stock-ownership plan.

Our office in the Presidio offers access to world-class running trails, windsurfing, sea kayaking, and mountain biking, as well as one of the top climbing gyms in the country and a trampoline center. We have a locker room and showers as well as a secure bike-storage room so that employees can run, ride, or otherwise exercise during lunch or on their way to the office. We have employer-sponsored yoga classes in our office twice a week. We also provide regular ergonomic training for our staff and bring in ergonomic consultants to work with staff members personally.

We offer the option of working either 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to maximize the opportunity for staffers to be outside during daylight hours. We have a long-service extended-leave program that supports staff who have been with us for at least ten years and who wish to pursue a personal project such as taking graduate-school classes, writing a book, or volunteering for a nonprofit. Participants continue to receive their salary during this time away from work. Recognizing the fundamental importance of travel to us personally and professionally, our company offers all of our staff members the opportunity to travel. We provide all staff with paid time off (in addition to vacation and personal days), and we fund their trips so they can join our tours or visit the rewarding destinations where we take our clients.

We volunteer with the Presidio Trust to assist with various projects in our cherished home, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Following the same sustainability principles at home as in the field, we use recycled paper in all our printers, have a companywide program to reduce paper waste, and compost and recycle throughout the office. We are in the process of obtaining our Green Business Certification from the City of San Francisco.

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web