Businesses and brands often aim to stay neutral on major issues out of fear of alienating some of their customers. More and more, though, we’re seeing companies stepping up and being vocal on certain issues — and in a number of instances, actually putting their money where their mouth is.
Take Patagonia, for instance, which brands itself not only as an outdoor clothing company but also as “the activist company.” Over the years, Patagonia has been a vocal advocate for environmental causes, committed a percentage of their profits to environmental groups, and encouraged people to vote with the best interests of our planet in mind.
Following through on that commitment to vote, however, isn’t always easy. According to 2014 research, 35% of eligible U.S. voters couldn’t vote on Election Day that year because of work or school conflicts.
That’s why Patagonia is continuing its new tradition of closing all of its stores on Election Day and giving its employees paid time off for the day. As Patagonia chief executive Rose Marcario says, “No American should have to choose between a paycheck and fulfilling his or her duty as a citizen.”
Patagonia’s not the only outdoor company living its values. For the past three years, REI has chosen to opt out of the crazed consumerism of Black Friday and instead encourage both its staff and its customers to live out REI’s true mission: enjoy the great outdoors. The brand closes all 150+ of its stores on Black Friday (and doesn’t even process any online sales!), encouraging staff to #OptOutside with their family and friends. In the process, hundreds of other organizations have followed REI’s example and joined the #OptOutside movement, perhaps establishing a new American tradition.
At a time when authenticity is more important than ever for businesses, these outdoor brands are leading by example and reminding other organizations that it’s okay to take a stand.