Chouinard embarked on the journey to restructure the company some two years ago as he sought to deepen the company’s commitment to the environment as he grew increasingly uneasy with his billionaire status, culminating in his ire when seeing himself listed on Forbes’ list of billionaires. Famous for abhorring excessive wealth (Chouinard doesn’t even own a computer or cellphone), Patagonia’s Founder remarked, “I was in Forbes magazine listed as a billionaire, which really, really pissed me o. I don’t have $1 billion in the bank. I don’t drive Lexus’.”
Now, the company can come good on its lofty ambitions to put tackling climate change above profitability, flying in the face of conventional corporate wisdom. Patagonia mirrors its founders path, redefining what organisations are capable of when wielded for social good.
In a letter published on the brand’s website, Chouinard explained, “As the business leader I never wanted to be, I am doing my part…As we began to witness the extent of global warming and ecological destruction, and our own contribution to it, Patagonia committed to using our company to change the way business was done.”
Charles Conn, Patagonia’s board chair, had this to say on the remarkable event. “The current system of capitalism has made its gains at an enormous cost. The world is literally on fire. Companies that create the next model of capitalism through deep commitment to purpose will attract more investment, better employees, and deeper customer loyalty. They are the future of business if we want to build a better world, and that future starts with what Yvon is doing now.”
The Chouinard family will no longer get any money from the company, but will stay on the board, as well as oversee the trust and guide the nonprofit’s philanthropic work.
This is a prime example of not just how leaders and organisations can future-proof themselves to deliver meaningful impact, but how we can refocus businesses to build a better world for ourselves and generations to come. After all, what matters more than the most important P’s of them all; people and the planet.