Whole Food Market: managers should be less greedy

Ralph Sorenson, member of Whole Food Market's board of directors, has wiped the floor with greedy directors. “They can be found anywhere”, he said, “especially in American companies.” Except for Whole Foods Market, of course.

 

"A higher mission" leads Whole Food Market

The American health retailer has always taken care of 'awareness in capitalism': a higher mission that leads the company instead of profit maximisation. “To guarantee this, you need servient leadership, not an authoritarian , controlling style”.

That was Sorenson's message at The Consumer Goods Forum's Global Summit 2011, yesterday in Barcelona, where an army of big cheeses was listening – including American leaders like Wal-Mart, Coca Cola and Procter & Gamble.

 

Earning 500 times more than an average employee...

They are part of the group of American top managers that has made greed an art form, according to Sorenson: “In 1980, a top manager earned 42 times more than the average employee. This year, that number has decupled to over 400 times more!” In the US, it is even worse: almost up to 500 times more – says Sorensen. This is even not including the stock options, of which the top 5% of US companies give themselves 75% - leaving only one quarter for the 95% others.

 

WFM gives the right example: directors are limited to 7% of stock options and CEO Alan Mackey used to earn only 19 times more than an average employee. “Used to”, as he now abandoned his wages for a symbolic 1 dollar per year. “Our directors also do not have private jets – we always fly economy” says Sorenson; silently referring to the fact that he flew all the way from Denver to Barcelona in economy class.”

 

Respect makes unions unnecessary

Sorenson thinks that greedy managers have an unfit HR policy: “We respect all our employees: they can take responsibilities and educate each other. Our internal transparency is total: each salary is clear – and so are the results of each shop.

This egalitarian management and fair rewarding structure make unions unnecessary: “We have 60,000 employees and not a single one is member of a trade union. We respect and trust each other, so we do not need unions.”

Whether or not his testimony convinced other CEOs to work for 1 dollar per year, as president Alex Thomson said jokingly, is still not sure.
 

 


Ralph Sorenson, member of Whole Food Market's board of directors, has wiped the floor with greedy directors. “They can be found anywhere”, he said, “especially in American companies.” Except for Whole Foods Market, of course.

 

"A higher mission" leads Whole Food Market

The American health retailer has always taken care of 'awareness in capitalism': a higher mission that leads the company instead of profit maximisation. “To guarantee this, you need servient leadership, not an authoritarian , controlling style”.

That was Sorenson's message at The Consumer Goods Forum's Global Summit 2011, yesterday in Barcelona, where an army of big cheeses was listening – including American leaders like Wal-Mart, Coca Cola and Procter & Gamble.

 

Earning 500 times more than an average employee...

They are part of the group of American top managers that has made greed an art form, according to Sorenson: “In 1980, a top manager earned 42 times more than the average employee. This year, that number has decupled to over 400 times more!” In the US, it is even worse: almost up to 500 times more – says Sorensen. This is even not including the stock options, of which the top 5% of US companies give themselves 75% - leaving only one quarter for the 95% others.

 

WFM gives the right example: directors are limited to 7% of stock options and CEO Alan Mackey used to earn only 19 times more than an average employee. “Used to”, as he now abandoned his wages for a symbolic 1 dollar per year. “Our directors also do not have private jets – we always fly economy” says Sorenson; silently referring to the fact that he flew all the way from Denver to Barcelona in economy class.”

 

Respect makes unions unnecessary

Sorenson thinks that greedy managers have an unfit HR policy: “We respect all our employees: they can take responsibilities and educate each other. Our internal transparency is total: each salary is clear – and so are the results of each shop.

This egalitarian management and fair rewarding structure make unions unnecessary: “We have 60,000 employees and not a single one is member of a trade union. We respect and trust each other, so we do not need unions.”

Whether or not his testimony convinced other CEOs to work for 1 dollar per year, as president Alex Thomson said jokingly, is still not sure.
 

 


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