Vincent Stanley, vice president of marketing and “chief storyteller” at outdoor clothing company Patagonia, spoke Thursday, Oct. 16 in the final installment of Sustainable Connections’ Future of Business Speaker Series.
The series focused on the “triple bottom line” concept, which refers to a practice of considering not only profit, but also how business affects people and the planet.
Stanley co-wrote “The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned From Patagonia’s First 40 years,” with company founder founder Yvon Chouinard.
Patagonia was California’s first registered Benefit Corporation. The Benefit Corporation designation lets companies be accountable not only for profit, but also creating social and environmental impacts.
One way Patagonia works toward a triple bottom line is by paying a self-imposed “earth tax.” One percent of its sales goes to environmental causes.
Stanley spoke at Village Books this Spring. Since publishing “The Responsible Company,” he has talked about concepts like the triple bottom line at business schools all over the world, including Japan and Europe, he said.
“I’ve never seen a group as interested as this one,” Stanley said. “I wanted to come back because I was impressed with what you’re doing in Bellingham and I think it’s a great model for other cities.”
Stanley said that while health of ecosystems is declining, he is hopeful about some trends in business, including what he called the regional movement, which includes local breweries, local farms and farmers markets, and farm-to-table restaurants.
Here’s what Stanley said about triple-bottom line concepts:
“Every industrial system we have is undergirded by the health of natural systems,” he said.
Stanley quoted former Sierra Club President David Brower, who said “There is no business to be done on a dead planet.”
“The better you treat your workers, the better you do as a business. That’s because people bring their whole selves to work,” Stanley said. “I think Patagonia has been advanced, and in some cases saved, by engagement of its mid-level employees.”
In the early 2000s, Stanley said Patagonia made a mistake by making environmentally responsible products that the company thought weren’t up to standard. They didn’t block rain and wind as well as other products on the market.
“We have to be in business first. The product has to be the focus,” he said.