Whole Foods Market
Some recent reactions to Mackey's opinions seem to imply CEOs should muzzle their personal opinions, lest they infuriate a particular client base. I agree that CEOs should have tact, but if we take this approach to the extreme, we risk encouraging dishonesty at the expense of authenticity and potentially constructive discussion. Is our culture really that bad off?
Somebody call the thought police
If Mackey has the gall to question climate change, does that suddenly make him (or his company) worthy of demonization, when both have long made major commitments to environmental responsibility? Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.
Ironically, people who flipped out about Mackey's views on health care decided to boycott a company that actually does provide such benefits to its workers, voluntarily. Good job, boycotters! Keep on rockin' with that "positive" approach.
Whole Foods has taken tons of progressive actions, but a lot of supposedly "tolerant" folks apparently think such concrete action isn't as "good" as Mackey's apparent ability to mess with their assumptions is "bad." Mackey's libertarian leanings have been disseminated on the Internet for years; it's not some big secret for anyone who's ever read up on the guy. And why should John Mackey have all the fun? Safeway's
Truth and consequences
Admittedly, a controversial and outspoken CEO can be a risk to shareholders. Overstock.com's
At times, the pressure applied against executive honesty can seem like public relations gone mad. Back in early 2007, some members of the media freaked when D.R. Horton
At what point should business leaders only express opinions when they're convenient or pleasing? Thankfully, few admonish another famously frank CEO, Berkshire Hathaway's
In the long run, I think honesty is more important than almost any other value a CEO can demonstrate in running a company. Self-serving, shareholder-soothing CEO doublespeak already happens way too often. Given some of the last few years' corporate debacles, I'd think we'd want to discourage corporate dishonesty, not demand it.
Give it to me straight
We should all learn what we can about the people who run the companies we buy from and invest in. The Internet makes that research easier than ever, and it's a vital part of any investor's due diligence.
Each of us has the right and the responsibility to accept or reject companies as we see fit. We may not like what a CEO has to say, but we shouldn't demand that such opinions not exist or go unsaid. More truthfulness and transparency among the upper echelons of the business world benefit us all. In that light, it wouldn't hurt for us to take a deep breath, count to 10, and listen to others' points of view before we take offense.
Should CEOs stifle their own opinions for the good of their companies' share price? Is the well-being of their business more important than their own personal honesty? Give us the straight dope in the comment box below.
Whole Foods Market and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.