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Patagonia Versus the North Face, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Social responsibility is an ideology where individuals or institutions have a responsibility to act for the benefit of society. This ideology is embraced by some, but not all, for profit companies. To those that do adhere to social responsibility, they believe that there are intrinsic business advantages, endearing themselves to consumers who embrace similar causes. Additionally, there are companies that do good things not only for business advantages, but because it is the right thing to do. Patagonia and The North Face are two companies who have carefully laid out a corporate philosophy that governs how they provide benefit to the environment and how they conduct charitable work. This paper will examine how both companies create their clothing and brand, providing statistical data that allows comparisons between the two.

Patagonia: according to their website, Patagonia’s mission statement is also known as their “reason for being,” which is to “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Clothing and products are focused on outdoor activities such as climbing, skiing, surfboarding, fishing, and running. Because of the outdoor focus, social responsibility efforts centered on the environment makes perfect sense. According to Lisa Gardiner’s article, Clinton praised the company as an “impressive example” of corporate responsibility for both donating ten percent of its pretax profits to environmental organizations, and for its family friendly employee policies.

Warren McLaren does an effective job of detailing statistics of how this donation was spent in 2009 in his article. During this year, $3,816,750 was given to nearly four hundred environmental groups. Although significant, this does not represent the only way that Patagonia contributes to the environment and worthy charitable causes. Two tons of compost was provided from the company cafeteria for gardens. 456,000 pounds of cardboard was recycled, and 14,280 miles were bicycled instead of driven during their employee “Bike to Work Week” event. Eighty percent of their clothing can be recycled, and Patagonia has trained nearly one thousand grass roots activists for worthy causes.

The North Face: this company both mirrors and contrasts some of Patagonia’s priorities. You will note on their website that products are similarly focused on outdoor activities, but the brand is decidedly more anchored in exploration, with North Face sponsoring climbing events in the Himalayas, among other things. Where Patagonia provides products for skiing, North Face specifies “extreme” skiing. This is probably more a positioning statement, but defines a difference in how the companies brand themselves. The North Face is more specific in its mission, detailing efforts to establish ties with local communities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and eliminate waste.

The North Face focuses its giving on specific events or initiates instead of a flat percentage rate donation. In the article called “The North Face Awards $2500 Grant to Mahwah Environment Group,” it revealed that North Face has donated $625,000 in grants since 2010 for non-profits working to establish connections between the outdoors and youth. Another article entitled “The North Face Announces 40th Anniversary with Progressive New Initiatives” describes how the North Face had donated one million dollars to The Conservation Alliance Legacy Fund. Other initiatives include a handing out 2600 compact fluorescent bulbs to homeowners, and providing environmental service work via over 230 high school and college students. According to the article “The North Face and the National Park Foundation to Support our National Parks Through Facebook Deals,” approximately $150,000 was donated to support critical park programs. According to an article by Tom Szaky, a group The North Face entitled “The North Face polybag brigade” has collected over 260,000 poly bags for recycling.

In closing, these two companies approach their business and social responsibility commitment differently. The two efforts are not conducive for direct comparisons, and both are providing meaningful, significant benefit is diverging ways. Both Patagonia and The North Face should be commended for their efforts to make the world a better place.

Works Cited

Gardiner, Lisa. “Outdoor Clothing Manufacturer Patagonia Recognized for Corporate Responsibility.” scu.edu. Winter 1997. Web.

McLaren, Warren. “See how Patagonia Spent $3.8 Million this Year.” treehugger.com. 24 Nov. 2009. Web.

Szaky, Tom. “ North Face Steps Up to Responsibly Manage an Invisible Waste Stream.” treehugger.com. 14 July 2011.

“The North Face and the National Park Foundation to Support our National Parks Through Facebook Deals.” nationalparks.org. 4 Nov. 2010. Web.

“The North Face Announces 40th Anniversary with Progressive New Initiatives.” CSRwire.com. 7 Aug. 2008. Web.

“The North Face Awards $2500 Grant to Mahwah Environment Group.” mahwah.patch.com. 11 June 2012. Web.

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