The future direction of Patagonia with Whitney Clapper

Your company purpose is to be in business to save the home planet.

Yet, you’re a company that thrives on selling products, to then fund your activism. Can you have both? Can you save the planet whilst destroying it with selling product?

Big questions are asked in this episode.

Today I speak with my friend Whitney Clapper who is the Director of Community Relationships + Impact at Patagonia, where she’s worked since 2015.

With Patagonia being the first company people think of when it comes to sustainability and purpose, I was thrilled to have the chance to speak with Whitney today.

I ask her what direction Patagonia is going in now? What are they thinking? And what are they focusing on?

I was keen to understand how Patagonia has protected the integrity of their purpose, in a world where the bottom line is the base of success. And the answers are not what you would expect.

We hear about the hard conversations that Patagonia is having around what they’ve been doing and where they want to be going in the next 50 years.

And what does it mean to be human centered?

There is so much here.

So grab your favorite beverage. Or throw on those running shoes and here is an inspiring chat with Whitney.

And please don’t forget to let us know what you think of this episode, leave a review and subscribe.

00:00:02:05 – 00:00:27:03
Philippa White
Welcome to the show, where we unearth new ways of looking at ever evolving lights around the world. Seen from a number of different industries, cultures and backgrounds. But there’s one thing that unites everyone I speak to. They all want to do their part to make the world better in their own unique ways. It’s a uniting passion. Whether they’re from the commercial world, third sector or public sector from the Global North or the global south.

00:00:27:15 – 00:00:58:08
Philippa White
My name is Philippa White and welcome to TIE Unearthedr. Hello and welcome to episode 49 of TIE Unearthed. There’s a question that I often ask our guests on this podcast. I ask people if there are any companies that they admire or that inspire them, companies that they believe in, that we can all learn something from. And every single time we hear about Patagonia.

00:00:58:22 – 00:01:32:04
Philippa White
So it only felt fitting that we get one of the driving forces of the company to chat with me about why they are doing what they are doing, how they are thinking, and what are they planning moving forward. My friend Whitney Clappers, the director of Community Relationships and Impact at Patagonia, where she’s worked since 2015. In her words, she works to hold space for people to come together and listen to one another so that we can work in unity for a just and better world.

00:01:33:03 – 00:01:59:00
Philippa White
The world is changing extremely quickly, and there are big questions being asked. It’s clear no one anywhere has all of the answers and there are no quick fixes. But what can help us move in the right direction? What can we do to help save the planet? And what can we learn from companies like Patagonia? That’s what we’ll be talking about today.

00:01:59:12 – 00:02:11:10
Philippa White
So grab that favorite beverage or throw on those running shoes. And here is Whitney. Hey, Whitney. Welcome to Thai on Earth. Thank you so much for joining us. How are you?

00:02:11:24 – 00:02:17:18
Whitney Clapper
I’m doing well. Yes. Thanks so much for having me. It’s nice to see and hear you. So it.

00:02:18:02 – 00:02:37:02
Philippa White
Has. It has. And thanks to Michael for putting us in touch all those years ago. And we sort of keep having these meetings and these catch ups that are sort of inspiration sessions to just kind of see what each other are up to. So it’s lovely to have you here and making a little bit more public so that other people can get your pearls of wisdom.

00:02:38:07 – 00:02:43:11
Whitney Clapper
Well, that’s nice of you to say yes. Michael Jagger deserves a big shout out for the idea of reconnection.

00:02:43:11 – 00:02:56:05
Philippa White
Wonderful. So where are you? I always like to ask this because I do speak to people all over the world in so many different corners of the planet, and it’s just lovely to get a little bit of context for our listeners. So where where are you sitting?

00:02:56:10 – 00:03:13:23
Whitney Clapper
Where am I sitting? I am literally sitting in the family living, dining, multipurpose room in my house in here, calling in as a guest on Unceded territory of the Chumash in Southern California, currently known as Ojai, California.

00:03:14:01 – 00:03:33:01
Philippa White
That’s a nice way of positioning, and it’s perfect for our chat today, actually. There’s so much that I’m excited to learn from you and get our listeners to hear about. But I think before we get there, maybe we can get a little bit of the background to who you are. Life before Patagonia. Yeah, just a little bit about you, Whitney.

00:03:33:05 – 00:03:36:00
Whitney Clapper
I know this is always one of those. It’s like, where do you want to start?

00:03:37:03 – 00:03:39:24
Philippa White
I was bored. Yeah, yeah.

00:03:40:11 – 00:04:12:08
Whitney Clapper
Seriously, I’m not going to tell you when I was born. Although, whatever. It’s just the number. Okay. Life before Patagonia. I mean, for me, I grew up in the Midwest, just outside St Louis, Missouri, and across the river in Illinois. And it was a small I mean, really ridiculous, really small little town that we were there because my father took a position as an English professor at this really small liberal arts college that somehow is in the middle of cornfields in the Midwest.

00:04:12:09 – 00:04:38:01
Whitney Clapper
So they my father’s from Virginia, my mom was from Connecticut, but somehow they found themselves in the Midwest because of my dad going to school and finding this job. So my brother and I both grew up kind of on this college campus that was a global college. So we had people from all around the world that attended. And I literally grew up in this environment.

00:04:38:01 – 00:05:06:00
Whitney Clapper
And so it was one of those where I was very, very exposed to kind of environmental and global issues, while also you the minute you stepped off campus, I mean, it was a very conservative small town. So we we had a KKK chapter right down the street from the school and the Mississippi River was was right there, a lot of Confederate and kind of racist mentality around that area as well.

00:05:06:01 – 00:05:26:20
Whitney Clapper
So it was this weird dual ascetic world where I grew up kind of incubated and on this college campus with all these incredible beliefs and wisdom. And then you step outside and here is this other very real world. And then at the time, Saint Louis was also a pretty challenging city to be in as well. A ton of racism, a lot of redlining.

00:05:26:20 – 00:05:47:04
Whitney Clapper
And we always kind of went into Saint Louis through Saint Louis, which was a very challenging part of the city and very clear, you know, have and have nots and racism all around. So it was an interesting place to grow up. And I think really that childhood I started there only because it’s really shaped so much of who I turned into and become.

00:05:47:08 – 00:06:10:20
Whitney Clapper
So that was my childhood. I thought I would find myself in order to kind of process life. I would take myself on really long runs through all sorts of hills and cornfields and you know, all around the area, bike rides. My family was always pretty, pretty active and my parents were of the mentality of if you wanted something, go get a job to make the money and you have a bike.

00:06:10:20 – 00:06:22:11
Whitney Clapper
Use it to get to that job. So that was kind of how I was raised, and that’s also kind of informed how I do life as well. Right or wrong, I will say there some unhealthy tendencies there.

00:06:22:11 – 00:06:44:01
Philippa White
But so then graduating with Patagonia, your first job, I mean, I just sort of there was obviously that makes sense as to why you are where you are and the conversation that we’re about to have. But in that point between childhood growing up and getting to that Patagonia, what were some sort of stepping stones just to kind of help guide that?

00:06:44:02 – 00:07:10:10
Whitney Clapper
Yeah, good question. Very. I mean, illogical and perfect at the same time. Right. I graduated with a focus in sociology and biology. The only business class I ever took was business writing. Because I enjoyed writing, I shied away from every business class imaginable, hated marketing, just thought it was so silly and kind of fake. So I focused really on people.

00:07:10:11 – 00:07:33:09
Whitney Clapper
I’ve always enjoyed people and getting to know people’s stories. I had an incredible couple of incredible sociology professors who studied criminal law and and was an active lawyer in Saint Louis. And often for those most impacted by the injustices of the law, so quite often black people. And so he really informed a lot of why I got into sociology.

00:07:34:02 – 00:07:55:22
Whitney Clapper
I had another sociology professor who was really focused on just women’s studies and that side of it and had kind of that mentality of fuck men. You know, we don’t we don’t need love. And I always had this sense of it’s you can’t really do it without I mean, we kind of need everyone to make change. So yeah, it was an interesting approach for me to kind of come to these realizations on my own in school.

00:07:55:22 – 00:08:18:08
Whitney Clapper
And then I really, I loved kind of the balance of sociology where it feels like you’re in an indefinite debate, right about humanity. Then I needed that, that clear cut and dry science as well to balance out my life. So that’s where biology came in, having answers in biology that were right and wrong versus where those the side of my brain that was just debates all the time.

00:08:18:09 – 00:08:44:05
Whitney Clapper
So I balanced myself with those two avenues, finished school, had this moment, of course, you know, a couple of weeks out from graduation, I never really knew what I wanted to do. I had worked at a battered women’s shelter in college that scratched my itch to be in the social work field. That was really challenging. So that was kind of became one of my what I don’t necessarily want to do for a career.

00:08:44:05 – 00:09:05:20
Whitney Clapper
I ended up moving to New Mexico, living in Albuquerque, because I really what I loved to do and how I kind of process the world was through activity and through sports. So I became a substitute teacher in the Albuquerque Public School System, which I don’t know the official rank of the Albuquerque public school system. I have to imagine it’s pretty low.

00:09:05:20 – 00:09:32:10
Whitney Clapper
And I think that’s when I realized that the children that need the most love are those that quite often actually have parents that are also teachers. That was my experience in this system. So this idea of maybe someday being after educator or a teacher started to kind of diminish a little bit. And I was nowhere near having kids at this point, but I just thought, I don’t want to be that teacher that doesn’t have enough to give to either my kids in the classroom or my own kids.

00:09:32:10 – 00:09:54:16
Whitney Clapper
Right. And then my my dad, unfortunately died pretty unexpectedly. And that kind of sent me into this other like, wow, what am I going to do with my life? And it was at that same time that I had reconnected with a friend that I had run cross-country with in college, and she was now working for Merrill Footwear, which admittedly at the time I didn’t actually really even know the brand very well.

00:09:54:16 – 00:10:16:11
Whitney Clapper
I knew my aunt loved Merrill. That was kind of as much as I knew. I knew was in the after industry. And I had this moment of like, you know, after industry that feels I resonate with that. I feel like I there’s something in our industry that I love and that kind of took me back to growing up at the school because it was such a global school and quite often of privilege.

00:10:16:11 – 00:10:41:02
Whitney Clapper
There were a lot of people that wore Patagonia at this college. At the end of every semester, college kids would clean out their dorms and they’d throw whatever they don’t want in these things called share boxes. And anyone could come by right and pick out clothes or whatever it was that was in these boxes. And my mom and I had this like ritual of every semester we would check out share boxes because there’s a lot of gems.

00:10:41:11 – 00:10:41:17
Philippa White
Right?

00:10:41:17 – 00:10:45:08
Whitney Clapper
So my, all of my, my early Patagonia came out.

00:10:45:08 – 00:10:46:22
Philippa White
Of our box.

00:10:46:23 – 00:11:08:09
Whitney Clapper
And of course, it never fit me because here I’m like seventh grade, right? And we’re in college and stuff. But I didn’t care because it was Patagonia. And so there had always been this kind of fascination and love for Patagonia. Right? I remember like the Salmon catalog from, I don’t know, early eighties, you know, and just the catalogs being this gem that I experienced growing up.

00:11:08:09 – 00:11:35:19
Whitney Clapper
And then you fast forward to here, I’m approaching this idea of joining after industry in New Mexico, having this moment of like, okay, my whole world has just shifted. Like my dad and I, both parents are gone at this point, being given this opportunity to interview for a job at Merrill, regardless of the fact that my resume had nothing like it was not anything of what a normal probably business or preparation would want to see in hiring someone, but had had a boss who took a chance on me.

00:11:35:19 – 00:11:39:24
Whitney Clapper
And that was how I got. Absolutely, yeah.

00:11:39:24 – 00:11:51:00
Philippa White
So now, I mean, that’s really, really interesting and I’m loving these stories. This they’re going to they’re going to be a nice segway to one of my next questions. But before we get there, I just what are you doing now?

00:11:51:03 – 00:12:16:14
Whitney Clapper
So I have been with Patagonia. There’s still some ebbs and flows. You know, essentially Merrell turned into Chaco footwear, which turned into Patagonia footwear, which turned into kind of my own marketing storytelling business for a while, which then took me back to Patagonia. So it was a little bit of a circuitous journey. I joined Patagonia in 2015 as as the brand manager.

00:12:16:19 – 00:12:52:18
Whitney Clapper
And at that point, the branding was brand new for for Patagonia. We had always had marketers per sport, but never a brand team. So that brand team evolved as as teams do that our new two companies took a variety of different natural ebbs and flows and shape, shifted a number of different times to the point of me becoming kind of enviro marketer and really focusing on that and, and from there shifting most recently into my, my new role, which is also new for the company, which is really it’s community work.

00:12:52:18 – 00:13:20:04
Whitney Clapper
It is figuring out how to be in and with communities in a regenerative way and in figuring out what impact what impact looks like, what partnerships look like, relationships, that sort of thing, whether it is with nonprofits or with sport communities or with those that are new to Patagonia. So figuring out exactly what that means and and what patagonia’s place is within community.

00:13:20:07 – 00:13:52:01
Whitney Clapper
So it’s, it’s a new space for me and the brand. I think what drew me originally was this sense of out of any company organization in the outdoor industry who might be willing to try it and take risks to do the right thing. It is Patagonia, and I would say that’s still true to this day. I think that there are many reasons why we’re able to continue to kind of try things out and take risks that that is are somewhat unique to other companies in the outdoor industry.

00:13:52:01 – 00:14:14:00
Whitney Clapper
You know, being privately owned is a big part of that. But I think still having still having the original owners involved in helping to guide and now their children and helping to guide, there is still this sense of doing the right thing will then yield the right results, including the money needed to fund our activism. What drew me to Patagonia still remains in some cases why I’m there.

00:14:14:00 – 00:14:35:07
Whitney Clapper
I think there’s also some challenges with that, and I think what I’m most grappling with is I don’t know if it’s unique to Patagonia necessarily. I think it’s here. We have this goal as a business. Our mission, you know, our purpose statement is to be in business, to save the home planet. Yet we’re we’re also still a capitalistic company.

00:14:35:07 – 00:14:58:11
Whitney Clapper
Right. We are still a company that thrives on selling product, which then funds our activism. And so can you have both? Like can you save the home planet while also destroying it at the same time, I think is what I and many others are still grappling with at Patagonia. And again, I don’t know if that’s unique to Patagonia necessarily.

00:14:58:21 – 00:15:18:20
Whitney Clapper
I just think where where I am in my work with communities and often working with those that are most impacted by the climate crisis but haven’t been the ones to contribute to the climate crisis. How do we reckon being a multi, you know, nearly multibillion dollar business while also wanting to be in service to people on the planet?

00:15:18:20 – 00:15:19:11
Whitney Clapper
Yeah, I know.

00:15:19:11 – 00:15:44:19
Philippa White
That’s a really big question. No big questions. And actually, that’s the base of what I’m wanting to prod a little bit because a lot of companies and a lot of people have the same questions. And I think what’s interesting is whenever I’ve talked to anyone and I mean, I think this is number 48 of podcasts, I often ask people who are leading companies divisions in their own way, change makers, what companies do you admire?

00:15:44:23 – 00:16:08:21
Philippa White
And Patagonia, of course, is the first company to come to mind and to have the purpose, this purpose, which obviously you were well before any other companies that were standing for something in this way in Patagonia, you know, to be in business, to save the whole planet is a very grand purpose statement. But you lived up to it in many ways.

00:16:08:21 – 00:16:27:06
Philippa White
And I just wondered, just with the I’ve got so many questions, but I think I’m going to start with you. Just talk about your role. You talked about your role being collaboration and citizenship community. Is this new vision going to change in any way where Patagonia is moving to just or shifting just really quickly and the other things?

00:16:27:06 – 00:16:32:22
Philippa White
What was that prompt? What’s changed for Patagonia to now change gears slightly?

00:16:33:03 – 00:16:55:11
Whitney Clapper
Yeah, and I think, you know, I think I will caveat in that I am not necessarily speaking on behalf on behalf of anybody and some of these you know, this is my this is my reflection, right? This is what I, I feel is happening. It’s not a company statement. Yeah. You know, I think those are all great questions.

00:16:55:11 – 00:17:15:10
Whitney Clapper
And I think I think a big thing that is happening, I mean, one, just the urgency of the state of the planet, right? The urgency of the climate crisis, the science that is telling us we have got less than ten years. That is is a big part of why we have shifted our purpose statement from kind of building the best product.

00:17:15:11 – 00:17:46:09
Whitney Clapper
Do not necessarily harm into we are we are in business to save the home planet. So that shift was somewhat sudden from our owners from my perspective because of the urgency needed to really do anything about the climate crisis, really. You know, what that did for us was have us all kind of across the company, across all brands and cross-functional avenues in the company have to do a little bit of, okay, we need to pause on what we’ve been doing as business norm and business routine in order to really answer.

00:17:46:09 – 00:18:17:16
Whitney Clapper
Are we doing everything we can to really be in service to the home planet? I think, you know, a big part of the community work comes in because right or wrong, we didn’t call out people and the home planet. And I think that’s still this internal debate. Should we have, should we not have, regardless of what people think, there are those of us that feel like in order to save the home planet, I mean, it is going to take kind of what I almost learned, you know, back in college of like, well, it’s not just about women’s right and only being led by women.

00:18:17:22 – 00:18:39:21
Whitney Clapper
It’s like we have to do this together. And so I think this community work is an extension. You’re totally right. It’s an extension of what I had been doing within marketing because as environmental marketer, I would purposely choose not to focus and marketing speak target audiences that that were our core Patagonia audiences. We knew our core audience was along from the start.

00:18:39:21 – 00:19:08:01
Whitney Clapper
They’d been there for 50 plus years. They will jump if we ask them to jump. So my goal in any of the environ marketing was never to kind of focus on those people. It was really to focus on the value aligned people that were dealing with the same sort of things that we might be talking about in the marketing campaign, which often meant people who had never walked into a Patagonia store, people who probably couldn’t even afford Patagonia and people who may never have even heard of the brand.

00:19:08:01 – 00:19:28:05
Whitney Clapper
And what that did was obviously kind of grow our audiences, but really it brought more people into the fight for people and the planet and started centering those that that are have been dealing with the climate crisis way longer than probably a majority of us at Patagonia have been dealing with it because they are the ones that also have the solutions.

00:19:28:05 – 00:19:56:14
Whitney Clapper
And so it kind of has been shifting our own narrative right, to to get out of our kind of white privileged silo ways and really open the space for a more collective unified engagement that we’re just getting started with that. Right. And I think, you know, we’re a 50 almost 50 year old conservation organization. And I remember when I first started, that’s that’s our comfort zone, right?

00:19:56:14 – 00:20:17:16
Whitney Clapper
The public lands, waters. We are learning that people have always been in these places that we’ve been fighting for and learning what it looks like to center people over, over place. And recognizing that by doing that place is also saved. Right. Biodiversity is also saved. So this is where we are currently and learning along the way.

00:20:18:06 – 00:20:37:13
Philippa White
I’m covered in Goosebumps actually. It’s really interesting hearing that and when we spoke before, I hadn’t clocked that. It’s the citizenship, it’s the we have to learn from others. We can’t do this alone. We need to come together more heads are better than one. We don’t have all the answers. Let’s be humble, let’s be vulnerable, let’s be human.

00:20:37:19 – 00:20:38:06
Whitney Clapper
Right?

00:20:38:12 – 00:21:01:08
Philippa White
That brings me to this big topic that I’m wanting to I’m grappling with. We’ve been in the age of competition. Right. But society driven by some big companies, but also obviously climate change of these companies and Patagonia being one of the major ones, realized a long time ago that society’s realizing that we have to move to an age of collaboration and citizenship.

00:21:01:08 – 00:21:31:20
Philippa White
We’re looking at the dominant values that were in this. It actually it’s Gert Hostetter I’m probably saying his name terribly wrong but cultural dimension theory. You know the dominant leadership values have been more masculine. So, you know, such as achievement, ambition, power, assertiveness. But now we’re needing to move to more feminine values. Right? So you know, people, empathy, nature, the environment, collective, this, you know, what I’m grappling with is there’s this move that everyone is aware that the world has to go in this direction.

00:21:31:20 – 00:21:56:06
Philippa White
Now, big companies like Patagonia is you know, you were in one place and now you’re actually moving to this area, too. But yet the status quo, you know, the corporation is still focused on and you touched on it earlier, competition, money turnover, profits growth. Right. Which is, again, back into sort of, you know, growth values. You know, the main goal of business is to make money.

00:21:56:06 – 00:22:15:07
Philippa White
We need to make money. And, you know, but it’s the feminine energy in business is largely ignored, but it could result actually in a more balanced and integrated organization and planet. And I just wonder, you know, Cara, as I said, Patagonia has always been a reference for so many people in so many conversations. And I just wonder, what can we learn from Patagonia?

00:22:15:12 – 00:22:35:13
Philippa White
And I mean, this is the million dollar question. Obviously, you’re also grappling with it and you also don’t know but how have you in this world where the bottom line is like that base of success, how has Patagonia protected the integrity of your purpose when it was what it is? And also when you’re looking at where it’s going, what are those conversations that are happening?

00:22:35:13 – 00:22:35:24
Philippa White
Do we have.

00:22:35:24 – 00:22:58:24
Whitney Clapper
Days to answer this question? Gosh, I mean, those are all the right questions. And I don’t know if I have answers that will satiate you or our listeners. I feel like I can answer from the department I sit in, which is our enviro department. I will say the little I know from our product teams and our sustainability teams.

00:22:58:24 – 00:23:23:19
Whitney Clapper
I mean, I think that there has been and continues to be this desire to do the right thing, which often is counterintuitive to business mindset, which I would argue the traditional business mindset and the mindset you’re, you’re speaking about kind of that has been identified with male direction, I would argue as white supremacy, I would argue is really rooted in colonialism.

00:23:23:19 – 00:23:30:09
Philippa White
And I couldn’t agree more. The further you get away from the colonial mindset, the more human people become.

00:23:30:09 – 00:23:32:21
Whitney Clapper
Yes. So forget gender.

00:23:33:08 – 00:23:35:01
Philippa White
Nice. I agree. That’s beautiful.

00:23:35:05 – 00:23:59:01
Whitney Clapper
Really getting into the root of it. We’re dealing with colonization still. We’re still dealing with white supremacy. And so I think learning more about the root causes will help us all figure out how to respond and be better. So I will say that I will say that is also where we are having to have difficult conversations at Patagonia because we are still predominantly white and privileged in as many books as I may read.

00:23:59:01 – 00:24:20:09
Whitney Clapper
Like I will never know what it’s like to be a person of color. So getting into the root of why we’re here and what guides business mentality, the grind mentality, I mean, all of these is white, it’s white supremacy, right? And so I think we have to call that out. I personally wish we are better at having these conversations, but they’re they’re uncomfortable.

00:24:20:09 – 00:24:51:06
Whitney Clapper
Right. And so they aren’t a first language for Patagonia by any means. So we are in the thick of that, especially with our enviro team. I think we are we have brought in people just the Justice Funders team is an organization that we’re working with to really help us wade through all of this. And I think there’s a lot of people that don’t necessarily equate why we do things the way we’ve done things with white supremacy, because that’s hard to say that we’re coming from like operating in that mentality.

00:24:51:06 – 00:25:18:06
Whitney Clapper
But I think as we get to the root of these different nuances of how we’ve done business, it’s not unique to Patagonia. It is how business has been done. And that’s those are the systems within which we are working, whether we know it or not. So so there’s that. I think what you know what we are doing well is willing to kind of operate from this space of curiosity and willing to operate from this face of are we building product the best way we can build it?

00:25:18:06 – 00:25:41:12
Whitney Clapper
Are we choosing the right materials, knowing that microfibers and microplastics are everywhere and in the oceans, you know, and we make clothes out of plastic, you know, I think we’re willing to kind of have these hard conversations with how we’ve done things versus where we want to be going in the next 50 years. And we’re really in that right now since next year is our 50 year anniversary.

00:25:41:12 – 00:26:01:15
Whitney Clapper
So I think we’ve always kind of been questioning our practices along the way. I think we continue to do that. I think we also recognize that being in business doesn’t always mean we have to make new products either. You know, we have a one year program which is kind of our care and repair program. So how do we extend the life of the clothes we make?

00:26:01:15 – 00:26:30:03
Whitney Clapper
We’ve always built clothes with the durability as a principle. How can we continue to extend that? So it’s not always the new you have to buy? You know, I think we have always been a company that has really valued nonprofit organizations and working with those small kind of local organizations, because we recognize that there are so many sites for people on the planet that we aren’t experts in, but want to make sure those groups that are doing the right thing to take care of people and planet in their communities, that they have the funds they need.

00:26:30:03 – 00:26:53:02
Whitney Clapper
So we’ve been giving away 1% of funds since 1985. And then there we’re part of the B Corp. We are a B Corp, meaning we have basically committed to a high level of standards and criteria that ensure our practices, our care for our employees and our values, that we stay committed to those indefinitely, regardless of who’s kind of running the company.

00:26:53:02 – 00:27:01:16
Whitney Clapper
And so those are all ways I feel like we have done the right thing in their their actions any company can take. But it kind of shows our commitment to people on the planet.

00:27:01:17 – 00:27:23:04
Philippa White
Totally. Maybe you’ve already answered this, but just because it is also something that’s come up a lot in conversations that I’m having, but it’s this move to being more human. It’s moved to being, you know, a more human centric organization. And I’m just curious to know, kind of, again, this is you, Whitney, not necessarily you working at Patagonia, but I guess having been at Patagonia for so long as well.

00:27:23:04 – 00:27:32:19
Philippa White
Obviously, it’s a long time that you’ve been at a company that has a clear purpose, that is genuinely asking a lot of questions. What is a human centric organization in your mind?

00:27:32:21 – 00:27:58:23
Whitney Clapper
Yeah, you know, that’s a fascinating question. I must want to start a survey at Halliburton to see what we get back to me, I don’t know if we are there as Patagonia. From my perspective, I think where we are striving to go as kind of this enviro team headed by our VP of activism. And my activism is really centering those most impacted by the environmental crisis, which is the climate crisis.

00:27:58:23 – 00:28:23:19
Whitney Clapper
And so to me, being human centered in my work and kind of the community work and what I think is most important is really figuring out how do we bring in more voices from the front line, how do we bring more? Oftentimes it is indigenous led organizations and movements to bipoc voices because quite often it is black and brown that are most impacted by the climate crisis, which means we need to get out of the way.

00:28:23:19 – 00:28:50:20
Whitney Clapper
And what does it look like for a company that does quite often have a pretty powerful voice and a lot of avenues? What happens if we don’t actually talk as much, but we open up our avenues for for those that do have the solutions. And I have been hit the hardest, too, to share their voice. And so to me, a human centric organization, it’s an organization that’s figured out how to bring those voices in and what our place is within those movements.

00:28:50:20 – 00:28:54:21
Whitney Clapper
And that’s like an active conversation for us right now.

00:28:54:24 – 00:29:08:21
Philippa White
So this is a question that I ask a lot, not on every podcast, it depends on who I am speaking to. But it’s kind of funny asking you this question because Patagonia is always the answer. Do you have any examples of companies that you admire and that inspire you?

00:29:08:22 – 00:29:33:06
Whitney Clapper
I’m going to answer in probably a different way because I think that there are many businesses that are trying hard to figure out what doing the right thing means for them, especially kind of in this fingers crossed post COVID era, I think the companies and I admire the most, it’s less about a company like I don’t know if I can point out a company necessarily.

00:29:33:06 – 00:30:01:13
Whitney Clapper
I think I can point out a lot of people and individuals within companies that are trying to do the right thing. And I would say that those are also the voices that are probably banging their heads against the wall the most as well, because it’s hard to shift a company. But I do feel like there are those that are willing to try things in maybe a different and potentially unpopular way because they know in their heart it’s the right thing to do.

00:30:01:13 – 00:30:19:24
Whitney Clapper
And so I guess if I had to say companies, right, this is my wish for Patagonia, right? Where like we are the 1%, we’ve done the 1% distribution for years. We are because we’re fair trade. Like there’s all these things that we have done to be the kind of that doing the right thing in business. We’re not employee owned yet.

00:30:20:03 – 00:30:36:22
Whitney Clapper
And there’s part of me that wonders how that might shift if we became employee owned, I don’t know. And I’d have to do more research on what that actually would mean. But I feel like there might be more investment from those individuals within the company that are trying to make sure we do the right thing and really be that human centric company.

00:30:36:22 – 00:30:53:22
Whitney Clapper
So I kind of wonder what employee looks like for Patagonia. I think the New Belgium, the companies that are big, that are also employee owned, I’m always intrigued to kind of watch and see how they what they focus on and how they do business that might be different from from those that are publicly traded or private, but. But not employee.

00:30:53:22 – 00:31:17:16
Philippa White
Owned. Yeah, no, let me you’ve answered the question, actually, and it’s really interesting. I had a podcast recently with a good friend of mine called John Alexander. And I don’t know if you’ve heard the podcast, but I do highly recommend it. He just launched a book called Citizens. It’s a fantastic chat with him. His book is fantastic, and I’m just going to take an excerpt from our chat because he said, to be a citizen, it’s the idea of the individual in society.

00:31:17:16 – 00:31:41:07
Philippa White
It’s not about being a consumer, it’s about being human and what the right thing to do is. The idea is someone who can and wants to shape the world and society that they want to be a part of. It brings energy and creativity to bear on the world that they live in. Citizen is about tapping into the resources that everyone has and can find the best outcomes as a society as a whole.

00:31:41:07 – 00:32:00:23
Philippa White
And I think it’s really interesting because all these different avenues are coming to the same place and companies like Patagonia are saying it. You and your division are saying if we’re looking at, you know, is it one specific company? And I think that actually just reflecting on the answers to all these challenges that we’re facing, it’s not a one answer fits all.

00:32:00:23 – 00:32:20:19
Philippa White
It’s activating those change makers in different places. And, you know, that’s what this podcast is about as well, actually. It’s just inspiring people to know that wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, if you’re part of a big company, if you are on your own, if you’re an individual, if you’re just whoever you are is activating that citizenship isn’t it?

00:32:20:19 – 00:32:26:08
Whitney Clapper
Yeah, I love that quote. It’s a perfect quote. I think that yeah, that indirectly is my answer to.

00:32:26:10 – 00:32:27:06
Philippa White
Yeah, you know, it is.

00:32:27:06 – 00:32:52:05
Whitney Clapper
Less about companies, it’s individuals and citizens and believe the end of the quote was something around calling out we all have access to resources. I would say that we don’t necessarily all have the same we don’t have the same access to resources. And so I think part of the human centric is how do we show up equitably? How do we help those communities that maybe don’t have the same resources but should have the same resources?

00:32:52:05 – 00:33:18:24
Whitney Clapper
We just spend a lot of time in Alaska and the law in Alaska. It is not equitable when it comes to indigenous communities versus white, and I would say that’s the same in many states. So it comes back to really needing to kind of question the systems within which we’re working. And then I think you’ll be able to answer the question on which companies in which people are continuing to do it right as we really navigate the systems within which are working.

00:33:18:24 – 00:33:37:09
Philippa White
So if you could choose just a couple of takeaways for our listeners to make their ability to be changemakers a possibility. What would you what would you leave people with? Just to put this into context, you know, there’s so many people who are leading divisions, leading companies feeling a little bit lost. They’re wondering, oh, my God, you know, Patagonia is my Mecca.

00:33:37:11 – 00:33:48:10
Philippa White
Patagonia is my north star. How do I get there? And I just wonder, you know, as a takeaway of someone who is trying to do the right thing and trying to get closer to where we need to get to.

00:33:48:13 – 00:34:14:24
Whitney Clapper
I guess I get nervous sometimes when I hear like at any time a brand, a person, whomever is put on a pedestal, I worry that people that try to achieve that same pedestal status, but it’s not authentic to who they are or who that company is. Right. And so as much as it’s nice to hear, you know, the praise for Patagonia and I get it, I don’t want people to think they can’t do it just because they’re not Patagonia.

00:34:15:05 – 00:34:33:24
Whitney Clapper
And I think it comes back to what is your own purpose? What is your own vision, and what are you uniquely good at doing? The last thing we need is for it all to be complete. We don’t need other companies to become Patagonia, right? Like that’s going to be its own monolith of like, it’s not going to be serving the greater good.

00:34:33:24 – 00:35:05:14
Whitney Clapper
Like what we need is to be in community, right? And we, we need, you know, the gardener who’s who we need the person who is the marketer. We need we need all the different people in their own unique ways to come together for that greater good. And so I think while, you know, there can be these things that Patagonia is doing well, that people can kind of learn from, like use this as a way to learn, but be so focused on trying to replicate, figuring out your own purpose or even individual purpose.

00:35:05:15 – 00:35:31:14
Whitney Clapper
Like I do a lot of work on my own individual purpose, let alone Patagonia’s purpose, because we need the individuals to create the companies to create the community total. So I think that that’s how I answer that one. That’s my take away is spend time on yourself and then you then, you know, learn how to use the voice within the company setting and that becomes a, you know, it only grows from there.

00:35:31:20 – 00:35:42:04
Philippa White
So beautiful. Totally agree what we have come to the end of the podcast, but I’m just wondering before we sign off, is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell our listeners?

00:35:42:06 – 00:35:53:15
Whitney Clapper
I realize your listeners know a lot about Ty, but I feel like so much of what you’re doing at Ty is another beautiful way of doing it. Right and well.

00:35:54:03 – 00:35:55:02
Philippa White
So thank you.

00:35:55:12 – 00:35:57:03
Whitney Clapper
I guess I love I read.

00:35:57:05 – 00:35:59:00
Philippa White
A lot from Patagonia.

00:35:59:23 – 00:36:16:21
Whitney Clapper
I mean I’m just a person have but I, I mean I think what do you want the audience to walk away from here? Like what is your wish in this conversation? What do you want people to go do after?

00:36:16:21 – 00:36:34:16
Philippa White
I love that question. God, you are the first person to turn the tables on me. That’s really great. That’s a really nice question and I think I would say the last few podcasts that I’ve done, interestingly, they’ve all ended with this kind of being their takeaway when I’ve asked them this question. But I would actually say that that is what Ty’s all about.

00:36:35:03 – 00:36:54:17
Philippa White
I think what we’re all about is cultivating agency for people, help them to unleash their purpose, actually. So it’s helping people realize what makes them amazing. And you actually to step out of your comfort zone in order to be able to do that right, you need to do things differently, feel that pressure to then unleash a lot of those possibilities and the potential that you have.

00:36:54:21 – 00:37:25:20
Philippa White
But I think it’s providing it’s cultivating that agency and showing people, oh, my God, look how amazing you are. Look at what you can do, and then go and do it because now is what we’ve got. Yeah. And I think it’s, it’s everyone can be that hero and everyone can be the change maker. And we don’t need Patagonia, we don’t need Michelle Obama or we don’t need know whoever it is that you admire and you think is doing amazing stuff, it can be literally you in your role at your company being a change maker.

00:37:25:20 – 00:37:44:20
Philippa White
And that’s why I’m that’s why I have this podcast, because I really want people to realize that there’s so many amazing people in so many different corners of the earth in their own unique ways, doing amazing things. So that was not planned. Listeners, I didn’t know that Whitney was going to ask me that question, but, you know, everything that you said is basically that.

00:37:44:20 – 00:37:46:17
Philippa White
And yeah, that’s what it’s all about.

00:37:46:20 – 00:37:56:05
Whitney Clapper
I love that. Yeah. What if everyone actually recognized their own potential? We would be in a different world if we then acted upon it as well.

00:37:56:15 – 00:38:13:06
Philippa White
And realizing that if we don’t. Yeah, exactly. And if you don’t like something or if you think that the status quo the way that it is, isn’t right, then changer Jim Carroll, he’s he’s an incredible guy. He was the chairman of BBH London for a really long time. And actually, he’s the last podcast before yours. So he’s up now.

00:38:13:06 – 00:38:27:11
Philippa White
I highly recommend listening to it. It’s amazing, but he ends it. I asked him, You know, what do you want to the listeners to take away? And he I love what he said. He said I was really into punk music. There was an ad, I think, that sort of showed three keys. This is E, G and F or whatever.

00:38:27:19 – 00:38:44:22
Philippa White
You know, it showed what they are, you know, on the guitar. They said, you know what? Don’t don’t think that we’re amazing. Don’t, you know, go form your own band. So you need to you just need these three keys to form the band the times now. And I think that’s it. You just need your confidence, you need your purpose, you need to know what you’re amazing at.

00:38:44:22 – 00:38:46:23
Philippa White
And then just go form a band.

00:38:47:07 – 00:38:53:08
Whitney Clapper
Exactly. And but yeah, because you have to you have to know, you have to believe. Then you have to go do, right? Like.

00:38:53:12 – 00:38:54:02
Philippa White
Exactly.

00:38:54:15 – 00:39:02:22
Whitney Clapper
Yeah. I love it. I think I have like a hundreds of bands and I think everyone needs to have hundreds of bands that always show up in community.

00:39:02:22 – 00:39:22:10
Philippa White
So it’s all, Wait, I could be talking to you forever, but I do. You know, I have to wrap it up at some point, but I am so grateful to you, to you and the work that you’re doing and for just giving me your time, sharing just what you’re up to with our listeners. And yeah, I think a lot of people will be really inspired from this chat.

00:39:22:11 – 00:39:22:23
Philippa White
So thank you.

00:39:22:23 – 00:39:30:02
Whitney Clapper
Thank you. Thanks for everything you’re doing as well. You’re an inspiration to me time and time again. I’m going to go back and listen to these other five.

00:39:30:02 – 00:39:38:13
Philippa White
Yeah, you’ll love these podcasts and anyone who’s listening. Yeah, I mean, there’s so many good folks there, but there are definitely if you if this resonates them, they’re good ones.

00:39:38:13 – 00:39:41:07
Whitney Clapper
So awesome. Thanks so much.

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