Blazing Trails in Corporate Culture with Patagonia

Patagonia is best known for its colorful fleeces and classic backpacks, worn by the hip and fashion-indifferent alike. The brand has a way of transcending trendy and is a wardrobe staple for many, even those who rarely step foot on a trail. To achieve this kind of customer loyalty, a brand needs that special something that forges a deep connection with consumers. For Patagonia, that something is a profound sense of identity and values that are deeply rooted in environmental protection and grassroots activism.

The company was founded 40 years ago and has remained privately held, with 2,500 employees across the world. On social media, it’s been named the number one brand in the sports apparel category for its engagement, impact, and responsiveness. All the while, Patagonia is often recognized for taking care of employees and offering exceptional benefits.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Dean Carter, head of shared services at Patagonia, responsible for the company’s finance, HR, and legal teams. Carter talks about what life is like at the “un-company,” and how Patagonia has always remained focused on culture, in both good times and bad.

An important part of a positive work environment is ensuring employees don’t have to choose between family and career. That’s why Patagonia spends about $1 million a year to subsidize onsite childcare for employees. But it’s in the minority: According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2016 Employee Benefits survey report, just 2 percent of employers offer subsidized child care centers, down from 4 percent in 2012.

Patagonia believes every penny of the investment is worth it. “It allows parents to bring their whole selves to work,” says Carter. What’s more, that $1 million investment almost pays for itself, says Carter.

The retail industry is experiencing its share of turbulence, but attracting and retaining motivated employees will always be the key to satisfied customers. As McKinsey researchers note, the secret to delighting customers is to put employees first.

Many companies use their public relations efforts, at least in part, to attract the best talent. But in general, public relations is outward-facing and HR is viewed as a mostly internal affair. At Patagonia, they’ve found that HR is the best PR. They have the metrics to prove that sharing the story of their childcare policies helps their recruiting pipeline.

We’re proud to have customers like Patagonia as part of the Workday customer community and look forward to supporting their HR practices as they continue to blaze new trails in people practices.

Learn more about our other amazing customers.

Photo: Kyle Sparks, Patagonia.