Earlier this month, Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario announced she would be stepping down from her leadership of the outdoor retailer. The move came as quite a shock to many, given that since joining the company in 2008, Marcario has steered it to unprecedented success, in sales but also in amplifying its environmental activism.
Marcario has also been an unapologetic critic of Silicon Valley leaders and our current version of capitalism. Back in 2017, she told me that the business world’s addiction to quarterly earnings was “suicidal.”
In a new interview for Lesbians Who Tech, released as an episode of Kara Swisher’s Recode Decode podcast, Marcario talked about the growing #StopHateForProfit Facebook ad boycott, if there is such a thing as compassionate capitalism, and what her next move may be.
On the Facebook ad boycott
“I think Facebook’s been trafficking in conspiracy theories and lies and hate speech and propaganda. They have something like $80 billion in ad revenue or some outrageous amount of money. And the most polarizing things create the most amount of ad revenue, I guess. I really don’t know how they sleep at night.
I’d already stepped out of the company when that decision was being made, but we had talked a lot about it prior to that. I hope this coalition of companies continues to grow and grow, and put more pressure on Facebook, with an actual hit list of demands. We can’t trust the government to regulate them. Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, I don’t know where their conscience is, to be quite frank. I don’t care how rich they are, they’re doing irreparable damage to the country right now.”
“The only thing that works is really hitting them in the wallet, so I think this month-long thing needs to be a much longer thing. I think there are some corporations getting inside pressure from their employees, which is very helpful.”
On the idea of compassionate capitalism
“I think if capitalism is serving multiple stakeholders, then I think it can be compassionate. Then you care about your employees, you care about your suppliers, you care about your community, it’s different than just caring what your earnings per share is. That’s not going to lead you to a good long-term effect.
To me, this disruption in capitalism has to happen because it’s not working now. COVID exposed a lot of what’s really wrong. In the richest country in the world, people losing their health insurance during a pandemic that’s tied to their employment? That’s crazy.”
“And we can do it! I ran a business that’s a really successful business by any indicator. And we were giving 1% of sales to grassroots activism, and we were doing a lot of good in the world, giving to causes that are really important to advancing health and wild places on the planet. So it can be done.”
On what’s next for her
“I’m going to spend some time with my beautiful wife, and then I’m going to focus on the next steps in making systematic change to corporate benefit to the world. That’s what I’m going to focus on, and there’s a couple of different forms that could take. But I think technology and media is a really important area.”
Listen to the entire podcast here.