A company that I am particularly fond of is L.L.Bean. The t-shirts I own from L.L.Bean are very soft and the Bean Boots I own from them are incredibly durable. This apparel and outdoor equipment retailer prides itself on commitment to its customers, commitment to its community, and commitment to the environment. While L.L.Bean may be known for its Bean Boots ideal for rain and snow or for its “Guaranteed to Last” policy which states that any product can be returned and replaced at any time if it falters, L.L.Bean may not receive as much recognition as it deserves.
L.L.Bean owns and operates its own manufacturing facility located in Brunswick, Maine, where its factory workers are known as craftsmen and women. Their titles as craftsmen and women suggest that the task of assembling a boot is actually a craft, and that they are masters of it. L.L.Bean joined the Apparel Industry Partnership in 1996, and aggressively monitors and investigates its factories to ensure that codes are followed. L.L.Bean’s Code of Conduct prohibits workers under the age of 15, allows for freedom of association and collective bargaining, and pays its workers at least minimum wage. These three excerpted pieces from its code of conduct strongly contrast the code followed by the factories of Apple in Shenzhen and Nike in Indonesia. A company that goes great lengths to maintain its code is a company I am proud of, and a company I will continue to support.
L.L.Bean produces reliable outdoor equipment, and as a company, it appeals heavily to outdoorsy and adventurous consumers. Its connection to the environment is embedded in its policies. The fiber in L.L.Bean’s catalogs must contain 10-20% of recycled fiber and must be sourced through a type of certification system. L.L.Bean also requires many of its suppliers to meet certain environment friendly standards in order to be in partnership with them.
I tried to find negative press about L.L.Bean online but the only negative opinions were from past customers who were upset about some of the new product offerings. These customers felt as if L.L.Bean was straying too far away from its roots by selling “flashy items.”
While I was searching for L.L.Bean’s company values on its website, I stumbled upon “The L.L.Bean Stakeholder Concept” which states:
Leon Gorman clearly took his grandfather’s lessons to heart. Early during his term as president, Leon introduced the “stakeholder concept.” Leon felt strongly that as a values-based company, L.L.Bean should have as its purpose to add value to everyone who had a vested interest in the company. L.L.Bean’s success depends on how well the company meets the objectives of its stakeholders. He described L.L.Bean’s stakeholders as customers, employees, stockholders, vendors, communities and the natural environment.
Since its inception, L.L.Bean has consciously made an effort to act in the best interests of its stakeholders. I am not sure if Ed Freeman owns a pair of Bean Boots, but I think he would be a fan of L.L.Bean if he knew about their stakeholder concept.