Patagonia may be best known for its sustainability values and initiatives, but the company is also a leader in on-site childcare for its employees. After several decades of providing child care at the company headquarters in Ventura, California, Patagonia brought childcare into its new national distribution warehouse, repair facility and customer service center in Reno, Nevada. Since then, according to a recent LinkedIn article quoting company leaders, the program is a clear success.
Patagonia is creating an environment that engages women: Half of the company’s workforce is female and half of upper management roles are held by women. The company’s approach aligns with the recently-released AWESOME Action Agenda: Seven Smart Moves to Make Bigger Waves for Women’s Leadership, where one of the recommendations for what senior leaders can do is “Establish work practices and environments that will engage more women.”
Possibly the roots of the commitment to on-site childcare at Patagonia come from the fact that Malinda Chouinard, who founded the company with her husband Yvon, was an early childhood teacher. The two founders felt childcare was a moral imperative. But according to Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario, the benefits are also very practical.
In saying that high-quality child care isn’t as expensive as some people think it is, she points to tax benefits, avoided turnover, and improved employee engagement. For example, at Patagonia, nearly 100% of new moms return to work, and the company’s female leadership statistics are impressive.
The article also quotes Patagonia’s Chief Human Resources Officer Dean Carter: “When you do the homework, you see that every study that has ever been done on this points to healthier children, healthier parents, better relationships between parents and children, better gender parity on pay, better gender parity in opportunity, more women in management.”
A story in Outside magazine details more of the innovative family-friendly policies at Patagonia and how they are benefitting the employees and the company.