Did Whole Foods just give conscious capitalism a swift kick to the curb?
There are times when a few years gone by can feel like a lifetime. It wasn’t that long ago, 2013 to be precise, that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey was making the rounds promoting his new book, “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business,” telling journalists and whoever else would listen that it wasn’t capitalism that was ailing America, but capitalists without a conscience.
Mr. Mackey, who co-founded the conscious capitalist movement and an organization that promotes its tenets, has occasionally been accused of talking the talk while failing to walk the walk when it comes to actual practice.
Consider the following passage regarding employees from the credo of the Conscious Capitalism organization: “Conscious businesses have trusting, authentic, innovative and caring cultures that make working there a source of both personal growth and professional fulfillment. They endeavor to create financial, intellectual, social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, physical and ecological wealth for all their stakeholders.”
With the preceding as a backdrop, consider the news that Whole Foods has decided that employees working under 30 hours a week will no longer be eligible to participate in its medical benefits program. Until now, those working at least 20 hours a week were eligible.
As many as 1,900 of Whole Foods’ 95,000 employees will lose their medical benefits as a result of the new criteria. The company, Business Insider reports, said the move was being made “to better meet the needs of our business and create a more equitable and efficient scheduling model.”
The average cost for insuring employees is around $15,000 per year, with large employers typically picking up 70 percent of the cost and workers the balance, according to a report on the SHRM website.
Last year, the starting wage for hourly workers at Whole Foods was raised to $15 per hour as part of a corporate initiative by Amazon.com after the company came under pressure from Sen. Bernie Sanders and other political leaders.
- Conscious Capitalist Credo – Conscious Capitalism
- Whole Foods is cutting medical benefits for hundreds of part-time workers – Business Insider
- For 2019, Employers Adjust Health Benefits as Costs Near $15,000 per Employee – SHRM
- Should retail rivals see Amazon’s $15 minimum wage and raise it $1? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will the decision by Whole Foods to cut medical benefits for employees working fewer than 30 hours per week hurt the chain’s reputation as an employer? Can conscious capitalism work — or is it only good for selling books, get speaking gigs and making shareholders feel better about their investments?