Peace on earth and goodwill toward all men may be a seasonal pursuit for most of us, but Whole Foods Market
1. Caring about workers
In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is a mean old banker so stingy, he won't even add a single lump of coal to the fire in his frigid office. Miserly though Scrooge may be, these days he's rapidly being outdone by financial companies like AIG
In contrast, Whole Foods Market incorporates a far more benevolent concept it calls "shared fate" into its corporate mission. Workers vote on benefits. Management pay is capped at 19 times that of the average worker. And most stock options go to rank-and-file employees, not the top tiers of management.
Furthermore, regardless of what you think of CEO and founder John Mackey's thoughts on the health care debate and other issues, several years ago he said he "no longer wanted to work for money." He promptly donated all the stock options he was eligible to receive to the company's various charitable foundations. (Like Mackey, Apple's
2. A kinder capitalism
In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge refused to donate to an organization for the poor and destitute. "Are there no prisons?" he famously huffed. "Are there no workhouses?" When told that some would rather die than seek such accomodations, he chillingly responded: "If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
Mackey's vision for Whole Foods Market rejects such a Darwinian, dog-eat-dog view of the world, in favor of what the CEO dubs conscious capitalism. In Mackey's view, caring for all stakeholders helps his company compete on a much higher and better level for the long haul.
Whole Foods also donates at least 5% of its after-tax profits to not-for-profit organizations, including those that work in local communities. It created The Whole Planet Foundation, which forms economic partnerships in the developing world, including micro-loans to assist poor women start home-based businesses in the company's producer communities. In addition, Whole Foods makes low-interest loans to the local farmers and suppliers with whom it does business, helping them produce more high-quality goods for the grocer's shelves.
Whole Foods champions many other progressive concepts, such as environmental stewardship and animal welfare standards. A company with such heady philosophical missions shouldn't be taken lightly. Its kinder, more enlightened form of capitalism doesn't just fit the spirit of the holiday season -- I think it should be any company's goal all year long.
Got other examples of companies making the world a better place? Don't be a Scrooge -- share them in the comment boxes below!