John Mackey, the co-founder and chief executive of Whole Foods Market, refers to the company as his child – not just his creation but the thing on earth whose difficulties or downfall it pains him most to contemplate. He also sees himself as a “daddy” to his fifty-four thousand employees, who are known as “team members” but they may occasionally consider him to be more like a crazy uncle.
Mackey’s a complicated guy, an outspoken capitalist with strong anti-union views. Yet his company holds to a compelling salary formula:
Mackey, an outspoken critic of executive overcompensation, pays himself a dollar a year. No one at the company can have a salary more than nineteen times what the average team member makes. (On average, an S. & P. 500 C.E.O. makes three hundred and nineteen times what a production worker does.) Last year, the highest salary went to Walter Robb, the co-president and chief operating officer, who made just over four hundred thousand dollars (supplemented by a bonus and stock options). The average hourly wage was sixteen dollars and fifty cents.
To me, he comes across in the article more as the crazy uncle than the “daddy” … and occasionally, as the crazy uncle with a mean streak. What do you think?