Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard selected to receive 2013 Inamori Ethics Prize from CWRU
Feb 18, 2013 - 5:00:00 AM
Case Western Reserve University will award the Inamori Ethics Prize to the founder of the premier outdoor gear and clothing company, Patagonia Inc., Yvon Chouinard. Chouinard is a global leader in corporate social responsibility with a keen focus on protecting the planet. A legendary rock climber and avid outdoorsman, he has channeled his personal passion for the natural world into a successful enterprise that sets high standards for ethical practices to create the best quality with the least impact.
Chouinard's integrity as a business leader and lifetime commitment to corporate social responsibility has earned him the 2013 Inamori Ethics Prize from the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University. He will receive the award at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12, at Severance Hall in Cleveland, Ohio.
Yvon Chouinard's leadership of Patagonia defines corporate social responsibility, said Shannon French, director of the Inamori Center and the Inamori Professor in Ethics at Case Western Reserve. He has proven that if you prioritize people and the planet, you can still make a profit. In that respect, his business philosophy reflects similar values to those of the Inamori Ethics Prize's namesake, Dr. Kazuo Inamori.
The reason I am in business is I want to protect what I love, Chouinard said in 2009 interview. I used to spend 250 days a year sleeping on the ground. I've climbed every continent. I'm old enough to see the [environmental] destruction.
Born in 1938, Chouinard is the son of a French-Canadian handyman, mechanic and plumber. The family lived in Maine before moving to Southern California.
Joining the Southern California Falconry Club at age 14, Chouinard's investigation of falcon aeries led to an interest in rock climbing. To make adaptations to reflect new climbing methods, he launched his first entrepreneurial venture in 1957. That grew into Chouinard Equipment, one of the sport's largest suppliers. In 1972, he realized that climbing products were damaging the rocks, so through his innovation and engineering, he introduced and patented new aluminum chocks that eliminated that harm. It was the first major business decision he made on behalf of the environment. That revolutionized climbing and led to further success for the company.
In the 1974 essay, The Word, Chouinard and his business partner, Tom Frost, described what has become the philosophy behind modern rock climbing, which encourages climbers to consider their intent and environmental impact while ascending heights.
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