Picture of a Patagonia store-front with a message that reads 'This jacket is garbage'.

Patagonia goes public for purpose and the planet

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard has announced that he and his family are giving the entire company shares (worth around AUD$4.5 billion) into a trust to fight climate change. 

Marty Drill

18 September 2022

4 minute read

Patagonia is one of the world’s most successful sportswear brands and is synonymous with both the outdoors and its environmental causes. The company’s mission is ‘we're in business to save our home planet’. A bold mission that, up until this decision, may have seemed fanciful or good positioning designed to capture the attention of consumers looking to associate with a brand that values the environment. Consumers, particularly millennials, are increasingly demanding that organisations consider their impact on the world and the environment in their activities and products. Going green can be good for business. 

Patagonia is a B Corp, a growing movement seeking to do business differently.

Interested in becoming a B Corp?

If you want to make an impact with your business, attend the Become a B Corp Workshop on October 5th at Luminary. This is a four-hour in-person workshop facilitated by a trained B Consultant (Lisa Hough). It will cover how to navigate the B Corp assessment (BIA), tips on how to tackle certain questions, and how you can boost your score to hit the 80 points to certify!

Who should attend?

People who want to improve the social and environmental performance of their business and become Certified B Corporations. (Typically founders and leaders of smaller companies; sustainability managers and communications managers in larger companies.)

Learning outcomes

  • Map your journey to becoming a B Corp
  • Navigate the B Impact Assessment (BIA) tool
  • Gain a baseline assessment of your business’ impact using the BIA tool
  • Set goals and track improvements to your business’ impact and resilience using the BIA 
  • Opportunity to have questions related to your business answered


Click here to register and use code BABVIP for a 20 percent discount.

However for Patagonia, it's more than marketing. Its mission has guided its actions since the beginning and now its profits are an ongoing force for good in the world. 

“As of now, Earth is our only shareholder,” the company announced. “ALL profits, in perpetuity, will go to our mission to save our home planet.”

This is an extraordinary decision that many organisations and individuals would struggle to make. Patagonia could have easily gone public on the stock exchange and instead it has decided to give it all to its mission.  Now that is a purpose-driven organisation! 

Would you give away your company to save the planet? Probably not. But, like many people, you might wonder what you can do to make a difference? How can you find the balance?

There is a growing sentiment among companies in Australia and around the world to go beyond brand position and corporate social responsibility, to both reduce their impact and do better for people and the planet. They are seeking to find the balance. 

You might ask whether long-haired hippies have taken over board rooms and just how (financially) sustainable it is for a company to be (environmentally) sustainable. Or, alternatively, whether focusing on the planet is the latest marketing trick to capture consumers who fear the destruction of the environment.

For an increasing number of organisations, it is simply how business is now being done. 

BlackRock is the world’s largest asset management company. In his annual letter to shareholders, this year the CEO said: “The next 1000 unicorns won’t be search engines or social media companies, they’ll be sustainable, scalable innovators – startups that help the world decarbonize and make the energy transition affordable for all consumers.”

Patagonia has been a sustainable and scalable innovator for a long time. Its commitment to the environment was solidified in 1985 when it pledged one percent of sales to preservation and restoration of the natural environment. 

This idea has taken off and become a movement. Now, many organisations are giving one percent time, equity, product and/or profit to causes they care about. Companies like Salesforce, Atlassian, Optimizely and hundreds of others pledge one percent and it is making a difference.

This approach is rooted in a desire to change the way we do business, to change the global economy. The old model of making a profit at any cost is outdated and the movement isn’t just limited to software companies in California or organisations like Patagonia. 

Nespresso recently became a B Corporation (B Corp) committing itself to long-term change. The company with disposable coffee pods is now committed to being sustainable and having it independently verified. It is a great example of how any organisation can change. 

Within Australia and New Zealand, more than 480 companies have become B Corp certified, making a commitment and seeking to balance profit and purpose. They undergo a thorough auditing process (B Impact Assessment) to identify if they meet a range of high standards and verify that they are balancing profit and purpose. B Corps in Australia and New Zealand include Aesop, Intrepid, Bank Australia, T2, 4 Pines Brewery, and Luminary. 

Becoming part of the B Corp community provides a standard to strive for that pushes an organisation to have a positive impact and creates a like minded-group of companies that become your peers and possibly your suppliers or customers. The community aspect of B Corps encourages cooperation with and support of each other. 

Change is upon us and it is time to act. We are facing a serious climate crisis that threatens our business models and the future of our planet. Something needs to change. B Corps will increasingly grow in visibility and power as a commercial model that's better aligned with the realities of both today and tomorrow.   

We may not all be able to be like Yvon Chouinard and his family, however we can make a difference with our companies for the future of them, our planet and our communities. 

Consider finding out how to become a B Corp at a workshop at Luminary on 5 October. 

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