Deckers Brands President and CEO: “Doing Good is Good Business”

Deckers Brands President and CEO: “Doing Good is Good Business”

Head shot of Deckers Brands President and CEO Dave Powers

Deckers Brands President and CEO Dave Powers

Welcomed to speak at the Dolan Dean’s Executive Forum, Dave Powers discussed strategies to 'do good' while also doing great business.

We needed to make the shareholders happy, and at the same time, vowed to make the products more sustainable. That gave us the opportunity to talk to customers about the good we’re doing.

— Deckers Brands President and CEO Dave Powers

Is it possible for a company to maximize shareholder value while keeping their promise to be socially and environmentally conscious?

That was the question put forth to Dave Powers, CEO of Deckers Brands, which includes footwear brands like Hoka, UGG, and Teva. The Dolan Dean’s Executive Forum hosted Powers at an event co-moderated by Dean Zhan Li, DBA, and Kathryn A. Nantz, PhD, professor of economics.

“Doing Good is Good Business” is a timely topic, since increasing numbers of socially conscientious consumers are putting companies under pressure to be a force for good. Analysts and shareholders have shown such growing interest in ESG (environmental, social, and governance) that companies are now rated on those metrics. Gen Z customers, for example, are particularly concerned about the environmental and societal impact of manufacturing.

'Doing good’ can be defined in a number of ways, said Powers, whose career began at the Gap and flourished at Timberland. “You can create a culture for your employees that gives them opportunities to do good in their own lives. Doing good is also about leaving a positive impact on the community and the world.” Employee volunteer weeks and a work-from-anywhere culture are some of the ways Deckers Brands gives employees room to ‘be their best selves.’

Acknowledging that businesses first and foremost need to be profitable, Powers asserted that employees and customers have to benefit as well. There should be a higher level of obligation from a company that’s benefiting from the planet and its resources, he said. When he joined Deckers Brands six years ago, he and his leadership team defined two parallel tracks. “We needed to make the shareholders happy, and at the same time, vowed to make the products more sustainable. That gave us the opportunity to talk to customers about the good we’re doing.”

He admits that those lofty goals can be fraught with challenges. For instance, although the company introduced a sneaker-recycling program a few years ago, they understood that most shoes would ultimately end up in landfills. “Therefore, the best we can do is make them with biodegradable materials,” said Powers.

Packaging and the emissions from transportation also have an environmental cost that must be tackled. “You can’t just buy carbon offsets and feel like that’s the solution,” said Powers. “We need to do the work. We look at our global supply chain and study every touchpoint.”

While a company the size of Deckers Brands can’t go head to head with corporate powerhouses, Powers said the key is to focus on strengths. “We’ve leaned in to the real human stories about athletes who can now run again after injuries. We leverage our authenticity, our ambassadors.”

The Fairfield Dolan Dean’s Executive Forum is an annual event engaging thought leaders and distinguished executives to discuss issues that have profound impacts on business and/or societies.

Tags:  Dolan School,  Top Stories

Last modified: 12-02-22 10:27 PM

20221202

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