Most people don’t know that Yvon Chouinard is part Canadian. Although he was born in the States, I think Canada can still take credit for creating a socially responsible businessman. Chouinard founded Patagonia, an outdoor apparel business that was started by Yvon Chouinard in the 1980s. Patagonia’s mission is to create new, quality outdoor apparel that is useful in the real world. Patagonia does this through its’ field-testing. The quality of the products is ensured because the people who make the products actually use them.
Patagonia has always been a socially responsible business, attempting to minimize its’ effect on the environment. A few years after Patagonia’s creation, Yvon Chouinard implemented a policy of environmental tithing. Chouinard said that Patagonia would donate 1% of its sales or 10% of its pretax revenue (whichever amount was larger) to environmental groups. Also, decision-making in the company always takes the environment into account. Patagonia wants to make enough revenue to profit, but if extra revenue means destroying the environment, Patagonia will find another way. The customers of Patagonia are loyal because they know that Patagonia has many values that it keeps, including the protection of the environment. In fact, many US businesses both small and large share in the effort to protect the environment, each with their own method. The guys at Albany HVAC in NY for example partner with manufacturers to offer energy efficient AC and heating products. Another smaller company I know of whose name is escaping me at the moment has their servicemen only drive eco-smart cars. The point is to do something, and it ties in perfectly with being socially responsible. When everyone does a little, the world can really be a better place. The idea of social responsibility is not about just following the law and pushing the limits of the law as far as possible to make a profit. Social responsibility is about going above and beyond what is mandated by law, and following your values. In the case of Patagonia, it follows an environmentally responsible path which allows people to respect their business, while they attempt to minimize their effect on the environment.