30. Patagonia

Ventura, CA

From the Company

Outside editors excerpted this information from the Employer Questionnaire submitted to the Best Companies Group.

Patagonia is a designer, distributor, and retailer of high-quality, technical outdoor clothing, lifestyle clothing, and travel gear for men, women, and kids. Our primary industry focus is the specialty outdoor market and our customers are outdoor enthusiasts. We use environmentally preferred fabrics—such as recycled polyester, organic cotton, hemp, and organic wool—and seek to serve as a model of sound environmental and business practices.

Patagonia's Mission Statement and Core Values are the foundation of the company's organizational success and cultural uniqueness. Every business decision is based on these critical building blocks. Our mission statement, coupled with our core values (Quality, Integrity, Environmentalism, Not Bound by Convention) has led to Patagonia's success and position of leadership within the global business community. The culture promotes a sense of "we're all in it together." Patagonia's company HQ has visible evidence of an uncommon company culture supported by its employees, be it the rack to store personal surfboards by the building's back door, the annual Halloween parade where company operations are suspended while children from the Child Development Center Trick-or-Treat throughout the campus, or the publication by employees of a weekly "Green Tips" e-mail created to help everyone reduce their environmental footprint, both at work and at home. Patagonia's unique culture fosters employees to celebrate all the roles they have in their lives, be it as a parent, a community organizer, an athlete, or an activist. This is not a workplace where one has to shed those responsibilities when walking through the front door. Rather, those attributes are celebrated and respected by the culture.

Patagonia staff are encouraged to visit their children during the workday, take a longer lunch break if the surf is good, or come in later in the morning after a hike or backcountry skiing, knowing they'll put in extra hours later. Being able to pursue physical activities during the day, or pop out for a cuddle with an infant child, works wonders for managing stress. Patagonia offers flex time, compressed work weeks, telecommuting, and job sharing to employees when needed. Patagonia offers flexible work schedules because employees cannot schedule when good surf or powder days happen, but can trust their employees to figure out a schedule that allows them to play, get their work done, and take care of themselves and their families.

Patagonia has yoga, Pilates, and aerobic classes during the work day for employees at no cost. Employees are encouraged to take their lunches and leave work on time to enjoy outdoor activities like riding bikes, walking, running and skiing. Patagonia works with local climbing gyms, fitness centers, and ski areas to provide reduced membership discounts for employees. We provide basketball, sand volleyball, and access to local trails in Ventura and Reno. Employees who walk, bike, or carpool to work at least three times per week earn credits to purchase Patagonia products at employee only sales.

Employees have the opportunity to take a fully paid leave of up to two months to work full- or part-time for a nonprofit environmental group of their choice. Patagonia matches dollar for dollar employee donations to any nonprofit charitable organization of their choice. Patagonia co-founded 1% for the Planet, a nonprofit organization that donates one percent of sales to environmental organizations of their choice. Patagonia co-founded The Conservation Alliance and has an Environmental Grants program. Patagonia and our employees donate food, toys, clothing, coats and volunteer time for local communities.

In keeping with our mission statement—"build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm"—we're getting closer to our goal of 100 percent recycled content by 2010. Eighty-three percent of Patagonia's apparel styles are recyclable through our Common Threads Recycling program and 65 percent of all styles are made with at least 35 percent environmentally-conscious fibers. We've only used 100 percent organic cotton since 1996. The Ventura HQ has a 66kw solar installation and our Reno facility has a 20kw solar array. The Reno warehouse is 75 percent illuminated by daylight using mirrored skylights, and is cooled with night mountain air. Ventura HQ uses wind energy purchased through Renewable Energy Credits and Reno purchases REC's from Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Patagonia works with architects that specialize in sustainable design and we choose to use existing buildings and renovate rather than build new buildings when opening new stores. When renovating, we use zero VOC paints, reclaimed or FSC certified wood, and reduced energy and water saving technologies where available.

Individual efforts of our employees are acknowledged in a variety of ways. Some examples include gift certificates for meals or travel, departmental or company-wide parties, and public recognition at company meetings. We award $1,000 after ten years of employment, and $2,500 after 20 years, and we have parties to celebrate these anniversaries. Last year, nine 20-year anniversaries and twenty-three 10-year anniversaries were celebrated throughout the company.

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