The Future of the Responsible Company: Patagonia’s First 50 Years
Patagonia recently released a new book, The Future of the Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 50 Years, written by the company’s director of philosophy, Vincent Stanley, with founder, Yvon Chouinard. It includes a detailed explanation of Patagonia’s novel ownership structure that made global headlines one year ago.
The Future of the Responsible Company provides the ultimate insider’s view of the essential elements of Patagonia’s business and offers lessons for the future learned from running an examined company. Stanley is responsible for many of the campaigns and initiatives that have made the company one of the most well-known and trusted brands in America, and his latest book offers readers an approach to corporate responsibility in a time of deepening cultural divides and a worsening climate and ecological crisis.
“The core responsibilities of a business to its stakeholders has not changed in the past decade,” Vincent Stanley said, stating the need for a radical revision of the original book. “But the world has changed. The threats to environmental and social health have accelerated. So has our knowledge of what needs to be done, by both business and the public sector.”
The book builds on the foundation laid by the original (The Responsible Company, published 2012), which articulated how a company can reduce the harm it causes, improve the quality of its business and provide meaningful work to its employees. The Future of the Responsible Company includes 75 percent new content, photos and a completely new chapter dedicated to the jobs we need to save our home planet and society.
Since its founding in 1973, Patagonia has dedicated its influence and resources to preserve the natural world. Starting with an essay urging climbers to rethink their equipment to protect the rock they ascend to pioneering the use of organic cotton, the company has explored how to use business for good. In 2018, Patagonia changed its purpose to “We’re in business to save our home planet,” and in September 2022, Chouinard and his family gave up ownership of the company. Patagonia is now managed by the Patagonia Purpose Trust and a nonprofit called the Holdfast Collective. The Purpose Trust locks in the company’s values, and all money not reinvested back into the business is given as a dividend to the Holdfast Collective to fight the climate and ecological crisis.
As natural and business landscapes shift while confronting an increasingly chaotic climate, The Future of the Responsible Company offers business leaders a vision for minimizing environmental impact and enacting policies that prioritize a company’s health and longevity over the often-destructive pursuit of short-term profit.
The Future of the Responsible Company is published by Patagonia and is available online at www.Patagonia.com, at Patagonia retail locations and booksellers nationwide.
About the Author – Vincent Stanley is Patagonia’s Director of Philosophy and has been with the company on and off since its beginning in 1973, for many of those years in key roles as head of sales or marketing. More informally, he is Patagonia’s long-time chief storyteller. Vincent helped develop The Footprint Chronicles, the company’s interactive website that outlines the social and environmental impact of its products; Worn Wear; and Patagonia Books. He currently serves as company philosopher and is a resident fellow at the Yale Center for Business and Environment. He is also a poet whose work has appeared in Best American Poetry. He and his wife, the writer Nora Gallagher, live in Santa Barbara and on the coast of Maine.
We’re in business to save our home planet. Founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973, Patagonia is an outdoor apparel company based in Ventura, California. As a certified B Corporation and a founding member of 1% for the Planet, the company is recognized internationally for its product quality and environmental activism, as well as its contributions of nearly $200 million to environmental organizations. Its unique ownership structure reflects that Earth is its only shareholder: Profits not reinvested back into the business are paid as dividends to protect the planet.