After Suing Trump, Here's What Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario Is Doing to Protect the Environment
Badass Woman spotlights women who not only have a voice but defy the irrelevant preconceptions of gender.
In 2006 Marcario, a longtime Buddhist, decided her career in corporate finance wasn’t helping her positively influence society in the way she wanted. So she quit to find her niche at a more “values-driven” company. “In finance I was pushed to deliver short-term results, but short-term thinking in business isn’t good for people or the planet,” she says. In 2008 she signed on as CFO of Patagonia, the outdoor-gear manufacturer known for supporting grassroots activism. Since then Marcario (named CEO in 2013) has sharpened Patagonia’s advocacy focus and made it a leader in Fair Trade USA’s fair-wage social movement. The brand now supports thousands of factory workers across the globe by paying premiums on 480 Fair Trade Certified products, more than any other apparel partner.
Protect and Defend: In 2017 Patagonia sued the Trump administration for getting rid of protections on roughly 2 million acres of land in Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. “It was the biggest elimination of public lands in a pen stroke,” Marcario says. “We’ve been protecting wilderness for decades and our customers respect nature, so if the current administration wants to sell off our cultural heritage to the highest bidder, then we’re going to do everything we can to fight it.” This year the brand also launched Patagonia Action Works, a platform customers can use to find and support environmental nonprofits based on issue and location.
Best Advice: “Women can have a hard time asking for what they want, but when I took this job, a former Patagonia CEO, Kris Tompkins, told me, ‘You don’t get points for holding back.’ She was right,” Marcario says. “I’ve learned that the more open and vulnerable I am, the better leader I am.”
Staying Centered: Marcario finds balance in her busy schedule by starting and ending each day with Tibetan Buddhist meditation. If she’s lucky, she says, she gets to seize a workday moment to walk outside near the childcare center at Patagonia’s SoCal headquarters. “Hearing the kids play makes me realize what I’m fighting for—the next generation coming up.”
Career goals: The CEO says she’s most proud of speaking up for endangered places and creatures. “If the people working for me believe that we do things to make the world better, to make businesses take on a greater responsibility not only to bottom-line profits but also to people and the planet, then that would be the best legacy.”
For more stories like this, pick up the April issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Mar. 16.