Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Eileen Fisher: One of "Kind" Leadership, One of a "Kind" Company

I had the privilege of hearing Eileen Fisher speak at the Wisdom 2.0 conference here in San Francisco on Feb 28th, as she was interviewed by Karen May, VP of People Development at Google.  Asked whether it was true that anyone who works there has to be "kind", the answer was: "No one lasts very long at Eileen Fisher if they are not kind."

Eileen told the audience what she meant by this; that it is not just about being nice, it is about telling the truth with kindness. Indeed the whole culture at the company is one of collaboration, communication and working together, using developed practices of relating to each other, of giving and receiving feedback, of starting to know what other people feel, and connecting to each person's purpose, being open, authentic, and honest. 

Eileen started her company with a simple concept, to provide simple easy to 
wear clothing for women, using natural fibers and eco-friendly materials. After a trip to Brazil recently, She came to realize the extent to which the fashion industry is a major polluter in the world, second largest only to oil. She is hoping to collaborate with others, hoping to transfer much of the knowledge about this and to create a movement of sustainability in the fashion industry. She has made a commitment to have Eileen Fisher reach total sustainability by 2020.

Eileen attributes collaboration, community, and connection to the company's success and has developed a set of core practices to instill these values throughout all of the operations. These core practices are:

Communicate the vision
Keep it Simple
Inspire Creativity
Team with People
Engage People
Communicate Openly
Tell the Truth
Nurture Growth in Others
Nurture Growth in Yourself
Create a Joyful Atmosphere

Decisions in the company are made through collaborative processes of dialogue and communication in what are called "circles" where people are encouraged to speak honestly and to listen wholly. 

Eileen Fisher, the company is "kind" about the world, sustainability, and people, by establishing a culture that cares about all the stakeholders including employees, and creates a collaborate process that truly honors each individual and their contribution to the success of the company.

Eileen Fisher, the person, is a leader that brings forth a new consciousness to the business world of fashion.
What a privilege for me  to have been there.