How Patagonia Gets 100% of Its Moms to Return to Work

National average is 79%
By Daniel Kay,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2016 7:33 AM CDT
How Patagonia Gets 100% of Its Moms to Return to Work
A mother (not a Patagonia employee) works on her computer while her child plays nearby.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Patagonia has accomplished an amazing feat: Over the past five years, every single woman who has gotten pregnant while working for the high-end outdoor clothing brand has returned to her job. The national average is 79%. If the former stat sounds too good to be true, Patagonia's HR head understands: "I wish it was 97.5% because 100% just doesn’t sound accurate." But, as Quartz reveals, the company's success is real, and it's part of a corporate culture that was built to value people, not just profits. While Patagonia checks all the right boxes in terms of corporate child care and ample maternity and paternity leave, one fringe benefit is the deeper sense of community its approach fosters. One employee tells Quartz he doesn't just pop into the childcare center to read his 4-year-old a pre-nap book; his co-workers all know his daughter, and that deepens all their relationships.

When the New Yorker recently profiled Patagonia's founder, Yvon Chouinard, it called him a "philosopher king," exploring how his passion for living a balanced life that doesn't sacrifice the time spent outdoors for that corner office helped build the company into the quixotic beast it is today: the type of company that'll design and manufacture a jacket then market it with a full-page ad telling you not to buy it. But before all that, when Chouinard started his company, he did so by hiring his friends. When those friends started families, Patagonia worked to support those new parents, and the approach has evolved to comfortable extremes: If a Patagonia employee has to go on a business trip, the company will pay to fly a partner or nanny along; if neither is available, one of the child-care center's teachers will go. (More Patagonia stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.