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What I learnt from Dean Carter, CHRO at Patagonia

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I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the recent LinkedIn Talent Connect conference. An event with over 4,000 attendees and one that, initially, I was a little sceptical with regards to what I would get out of it. I can tell you now that it surpassed my expectations; the conference had an amazing agenda packed with inspiring speakers and opportunities to connect with global talent leaders. While I can’t cover everything that I learnt, I do want to share what stood out to me in a session lead by Dean Carter, CHRO at Patagonia.  

 

So what did Dean say that was so inspiring? What I liked most about Dean wasn’t that he was constantly trying to analyse decisions from an ROI perspective but more that he was trying to work out what would make the employees of Patagonia happy: something that the founder, Yvon, had instilled in him from the outset. At Patagonia, the gender pay gap isn’t an issue that they have had to deal with because they’ve always strived to allow people to have a life and a career, they are not mutually exclusive. 

 

What Patagonia do for their employees:

 

  1. Have a 9/80 working culture. Ultimately working 9 hours a day for 9 days and then having every other Friday off. So you essentially get a 3 day weekend every other weekend. 
  2. Parents are encouraged to bring their children to work, not just one day a year, but whenever they want. Patagonia provide onsite childcare and 52% of people that use it are men. As a result of this 100% of women return to work at Patagonia after having a baby, against a general standard of 25-30% who do not return to work. This benefit has been in place for 40 years!
  3. When women are nursing, Patagonia pay for a nanny to accompany them if they need to travel for work, allowing them to bring their baby with them.

 

The examples above are wonderful to hear about, Patagonia is clearly a company that is trying to push boundaries and do things differently in order to succeed. But what was really impressive about Dean was the passion and drive to just do the right thing. He talked heavily about what we put into people’s lives and that if we can make their experience of work better, people will not only give more back, but they will strive to go even further. 

 

One phrase that stood out to me was the use of ‘Culture Add’ rather than ‘Culture Fit’. How can we add to the culture not only of the company but of the people that work for the company? Don’t always think about the need/desire to have people “fit” with the culture that we have set out. 

 

So what did I learn from everything mentioned above? I know that I won’t be able to offer everything that Patagonia does, but I also know that there is so much more that the Elliott Scott Group can do for our employees in order to make their working experience better than it is today. Not by some process that a management consultancy has suggested, but by listening to my people, hearing about what is important to them and reacting to that. So I state now that I will strive to make a change in the coming months that is not driven by anything other than the desire to make life better for the people that work for me. Watch this space! 


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