Diversifying talent through local partnership and outreach
Patagonia is in business to save our home planet, which is in peril. We recognize that the environmental crisis affects everyone, and it disproportionately affects people from marginalized communities. Our best chance to save our planet will require giving everyone a voice, regardless of race, socioeconomic status or background. Patagonia has prioritized advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the company, and in the process, has sought to engage individuals and communities who are historically underrepresented in the outdoor community, the environmental movement, and the company. The Innovation Lab was an opportunity for Patagonia to pilot a program to diversify its retail stores employees.
Through the Talent Rewire Innovation Lab, Patagonia designed a 10-week summer internship program in partnership with a community-based organization, which would involve recruiting and supporting a cohort of four interns in its DC store during the 2018 Summer with the intention of offering employment for the holiday hiring season. They found a strong partner in the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) largely due to strongly aligned mutually beneficial outcomes: Patagonia provided meaningful professional development opportunities for LAYC’s young people, and LAYC provided Patagonia a pool of skilled young people looking to continue their workforce development.
Additionally, to make their hiring process more inclusive of candidates from different backgrounds, Patagonia revised their interview questions to focus more on job skills such as willingness to learn and communication than specific experience in the outdoors with our product.”
Of the four LAYC youth who applied for the internship, 100 percent were accepted, all of which represents a higher interview-to-hire ratio than Patagonia’s traditional applicant pool. Furthermore, all four interns showed interest in staying on with Patagonia as employees. Given the success of the pilot, the outdoor retailer is considering whether and how to scale the program to additional cities.
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There are great organizations doing this amazing work of preparing young people who we would not otherwise reach in our hiring process. We realized that there is a huge opportunity to expand our network and diversify our workforce through these partnerships, and we don’t have to do this important work alone.