Nevermind those yellow vests in France, we’ve got puffer vests to talk about. The outdoor gear company Patagonia is taking their form of corporate activism to a whole new level and it’s an odd twist in capitalism. A new corporate policy now restricts sales of their popular corporate logo vests to companies who commit to community and environmental causes. So, instead of expanding sales this new policy enforces a form of a litmus test before the fulfillment of a corporate order is approved.
In other words, instead of a consumer boycott of a company due to business practices or policies, Patagonia is boycotting companies with which they disagree. The new policy focuses on catering to what Patagonia calls Certified B Corporations, which are those companies that are committed to the community and the environment. First up on the chopping block are financial and tech companies. If a company isn’t “mission-driven”, well, sorry. That order for vests will be rejected.
A representative for Patagonia confirmed it has recently changed its policy, but declined to say exactly when this change happened. Here is the company’s statement:
“Our corporate sales program manages Patagonia’s sales to other companies, non-profits, and other organizations. We recently shifted the focus of this program to increase the number of Certified B Corporations, 1% For The Planet members and other mission-driven companies that prioritize the planet. This shift does not affect current customers in our corporate sales program.”
It’s a common giveaway to employees, a piece of clothing with a company logo stamped or embroidered on it. Whether its a t-shirt or a baseball-style cap, logo clothing is a form of advertising each time an employee steps out in public sporting the company name. The clothing inspires company pride and even a sense of team spirit. In this case, the popular item worn by employees is a Patagonia vest. I confess I have little knowledge of the Patagonia Nano Puff but apparently it’s very popular with lots of companies and Silicon Valley tech company employees have made it a wardrobe staple. Think HBO’s Silicon Valley. This vest is described as a “Power Vest”. Now, however, the folks in the finance and tech industries find themselves no longer eligible for the status garment.
At the highest levels of power in the finance and tech industries, there is one gold standard, one unifying symbol that binds together all self-styled masters of the universe, all the titans of industry: the Patagonia Nano Puff vest with an embroidered corporate logo, also know as the Power Vest.
You get the idea with this tweet.
if u wanna be a CEO go buy a vest and walk through a mf field
(uber ceo, left / jeff bezos, right) pic.twitter.com/Uxk1g30NS2
— BW (@BRYNNTRILL2) February 16, 2018
Corporate bulk orders are lucrative but Patagonia is doubling down on its reputation for political activism and that includes snubbing the financial industry who finance companies at odds with a liberal Nirvana vision of the world and tech companies, too. Those sectors specifically named will not be a surprise – the energy industry in particular, whether oil and gas or coal, even dam construction. And politically affiliated groups, religious groups and even food groups. I know. Their disdain of regular working Americans surpasses their desire to be politically correct scolds. They are in business to “save our home planet”, y’all.
— Binna Kim (@binnaskim) April 1, 2019
Forgive me if I don’t applaud such myopic thinking from my moral betters at Patagonia. Patagonia is focusing on selling goods to “like-minded” clients. Bubble-dwelling rarely ends well. Maybe the company is financially solvent enough to limit bulk sales and discrimination against those with which they disagree. Rose Marcario is the company’s CEO and a practicing Buddist who is vehemently anti-Trump. She didn’t handle election night 2016 particularly well.
From the bedroom of her Ventura, California, home, she agonized over Trump’s campaign pledges–to bring back coal, dismantle public land protections, and unwind efforts to combat climate change–which represented everything Patagonia, a stalwart defender of environmental issues, had long fought against. “It was disappointing on so many levels,” recalls Marcario, who felt “a real threat” that all the company stood for was “on the line.”
By 4 a.m., she had had enough. The 52-year-old practicing Buddhist got out of bed to meditate. This was going to be a long one. Marcario centered herself on Patagonia’s 45-year history. While some CEOs were salivating at the prospect of a more laissez-faire regulatory environment, Marcario intuited that this was the moment to embrace Patagonia’s core DNA–“to double down on our activism.”
This wasn’t an end, Marcario thought, but a beginning. She moved to her laptop and began punching out a company-wide email. It was more than her version of “Keep calm and carry on.” In her note, she stressed the urgency “to defend wilderness, to defend air, soil, and water.” She wanted to “galvanize” the Patagonia community around these issues, she says, reminding her people that they must “continue to [use] their voice” and “deepen our resolve to protect what we love.”
The evil Orange Man will destroy the planet, you know. It’s ironic that she was so concerned about her business on that election night given how the American economy has rocketed to new levels of success in all categories since Trump’s victory. A stronger economy means more retail and wholesale sales. Marcario continues to ramp up her moral indignation with the man in the Oval Office and challenges others to not be complicit. I’m telling you, I’ve never heard the word ‘complicit’ as much as I have since the election of Donald Trump. (Fast Company)
Marcario’s success serves as a rebuttal to companies that restrict societal impact to a second- or third-tier priority in the corporate world. “This isn’t the time to be lazy, to be reserved, to be complicit, to be quiet,” she says. “We’re living in a time when it’s so important for business to drive this new economy, this new view, this aspirational future of business as a force for good.”
She still shakes her head “in frustration” whenever Trump’s name is uttered, according to the Fast Company article. Bless her heart. Nonetheless, she persists. “People really want to do something,” she says. “This makes it easier for them to get involved.” Ah, yes. The feel-good leftist mentality on full display. In the mean time, she has a strong American economy that allows her to be as sanctimonious as she wishes to be. She can thank the president for that.
NOTE: The photo above is of President Trump holding up the proclamation to shrink the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, an action that Patagonia strongly protested..