Crocs is stepping up to the challenges

This blog was originally published to the University of Denver Daniels College of Business blog on January 28, 2021.

Marketing student shares takeaways from executives at Crocs

Picture this: you are a senior marketing student at DU, drowning in schoolwork, internship work, and the general emotional work required to cope with the state of the world right now. Then, you get an email—an invitation to a Zoom event. First thought: “I can’t stand staring at my computer for more than I already have to. ”Second thought: “Wait, did that say it is a webinar about Crocs?” Third thought: “Where do I sign up?”

On Nov. 5, 2020, the management department here at Daniels welcomed two executive leaders at Crocs to discuss their company’s post-COVID strategic pivot. The question at hand: how does an organization respond to an unexpected global pandemic and economic crisis with not only a defensive approach, but an offensive one as well?

Crocs President Michelle Poole and Crocs Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer Shannon Sisler (MBA 2007) explain how Crocs is at a point now, despite the numerous external environmental challenges, where their stock is at a 13-year high.

Poole started the conversation with an overview of the Crocs company culture. I, as many would likely agree, knew Crocs was a popular, well-known brand. What I didn’t know, though, was just how successful they’d become: sold in more than 90 countries, more than 4,000 employees and more than 600 million pairs sold. Wow. For a company that just turned 18 and is still in its teenage years (making mistakes and discovering itself as teenagers do), that’s far from shabby.

Apart from monetary success, Crocs has also found success in developing an admirable brand vision: to make everyone comfortable in their own shoes. With values like inclusivity, imaginative innovation and unapologetic optimism, it became clear to me that Crocs is admirable for more than just their marketing success and virality, but for their genuine company mission as well—something that you don’t see on the shelves of a store, but that still influences and permeates all that they do.

Thus, when Shannon Sisler discussed Crocs’ response to COVID—the “Free Pair for Healthcare” campaign providing 860,000 pairs of Crocs to essential workers in just 45 days—I was not surprised. This is a company that truly believes doing the right thing ethically is also the right thing for the brand, employees and community. The 75,000 gained followers, 1,000 earned media placements and 19 million social impressions were just another perk.

Crocs has also made a smart move strategically by partnering with Feeding America, accepting donations in stores, and consequently providing more than five million meals to those in need. And if somehow, you’re still not impressed, they have increased the diversity of their board placements and created an inclusive workforce with remarkable employee engagement. Basically, this brand is doing everything right.

Without this webinar, I would’ve had no idea how admirable the Crocs company is. Well worth the extra hour of screen time. So thank you to the Daniels Management Department!

My first year, in Gateway to Business, we were told to update our LinkedIn bio to be unique and reflective of our career goals. In my summary, which I still use today, I stated, “Business ethicality and social change are both very important to me, and I admire companies that look for innovative ways to improve the world.” Crocs is doing just that—combining business and innovation to create positive change. Bill Daniels would be proud.

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