Patagonia has long been close to our hearts at Sage. The reason for this is sound: they are a company who sticks to its morals. And, even in the face of direct purchase requests, they stand true to what they’ve always believed. But let’s unpack this recent article to see how and why this is such an important business move.
The Sweet Spot
Patagonia knows who its core customers are – and it isn’t “everyone”. This stands in stark contrast to companies like Apple or Google whose entire business strategy is ubiquity. It’s a different approach, but dialing in on a “sweet spot” in their customer base allows for ethical production decisions, as well as profitable ones.
What Patagonia did, in essence, by rejecting a purchase request from a larger client was to stand firm on their customer base. For a business that has been as devoted to the environment as Patagonia, it only makes sense that their core customer be someone who cares about the planet. It’s good business, plain and simple, that the retailer would—and should—direct their business to the type of customer who isn’t connected to environmentally damaging practices.
But what about Sales?
The most powerful indicator of character for any business is a willingness to snub paying clientele because of a sound and honorable belief. After all, it’s obvious, by the astronomical paychecks of many CEOs, that people are “in it for the money.”
By saying “no” to cash in an outstretched hand, Patagonia shows where they live as a business. It’s important to note, however, that they are not giving away product. It’s not that the outdoor goods manufacturer is a failing business because they keep rejecting sales; it’s that the sales they take are in-line with their core values.
The ‘together’ in GoodTogether means everybody
Perfectly good devices get recycled or shredded every day. At Sage, we are eager to help generous companies donate these end-of-life IT assets to address the digital inequity rampant in our country. Our GoodTogether program exists to provide all individuals, organizations, and communities with access to reliable technology. We happily connect generous donors with those who need technology.
True to our core beliefs of sustainability and diversity, we recently took the position to not facilitate donations to groups that discriminate, particularly against the LGBT community. Diversity is the only sustainable way to build a community in business or in life, and organizations who reject this reality are—at their core—against what GoodTogether fundamentally stands for.
In the same way that environmentally damaging businesses are undermining what Patagonia strives to change, organizations that discriminate undermine Sage’s mission and values. It’s not a choice we make lightly, but we know that any progress we work towards is hindered so long as we send technology to discriminating organizations.
Patagonia will continue to sell to the greater public, and GoodTogether will continue to do good in organizations and programs in need of technology. But detractors and discriminators are not the right company to keep when you aim to change the world. Being sustainable and promoting diversity are the “radical” ideas that will change our world for the better. And if that costs a sale or a partnership, then that’s the price of change our companies are willing to pay.