PATAGONIA "We look for 'dirt bags' to work for us," says Lu Setnicka, director of public affairs at Patagonia, the Ventura, Calif.based manufacturer of outdoor sports clothing and equipment. "We believe that it's easier to hire passionate outdoor people [dirt bags] than to teach passion for the outdoors."
Patagonia gives 1 percent of its annual sales to grassroots activist organizations like Buffalo Nations, which is committed to protecting the wild buffalo population of Yellowstone National Park. "This motivates our employees more than bonuses in their paychecks," says Setnicka. The company also lets employees apply for a leave of absence each fiscal year to participate in environmental internship programs.
Meetings reinforce corporate values. At the last company-wide meeting, the topic was environmental activism and the guest speaker was environmentalist and consumer advocate Ralph Nader. Other speakers included three employees who shared their experiences with Patagonia's internship programs.
The Society of Corporate Meeting Professionals is holding its Spring Conference May 24 to 26 at the Sheraton El Conquistador Resort in Tucson. The meeting will emphasize member-driven sessions and hands-on training.
What you won't encounter at SCMP are hotel salespeople, because the organization restricts its membership to corporate meeting organizers and convention services managers. "This provides a greater opportunity for peer-to-peer learning and networking, with virtually no sales element in the mix of members and conference attendees," says SCMP President Barbara Mason.
In addition to the spring conference, SCMP also holds an annual meeting the first week of November. For more information call (404) 355-9932 or visit www.scmp.org.
A group of employees of San Diego based meeting management firm Concepts Worldwide recently headed south of the border for a day to help refurbish the Cochcupaikili School in Tijuana, Mexico. With the help of neighborhood families and children, they were able to repair the building, fix up the grounds, and install a new playground.