Whole Foods’ John Mackey’s Sneak Attack on Rival Wild Oats
Can you believe it? John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, has been often cited in the press as a model of ethical, compassionate leadership. Now it turns out that he’s been writing anonymous postings online aimed at lowering the stock price of competitor Wild Oats–which his company has been trying to buy!
This was a shocker–I’d always thought of Whole Foods as a pretty ethical company, even as I watched it swallow several competitors (including our local equivalent, Bread & Circus).
As someone who has written an award-winning book about why ethical companies are more likely to succeed (Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First) and who founded a movement called the Business Ethics Pledge http://www.business-ethics-pledge.org , I’m of the opinion–based on research–that strong ethics helps a company succeed.
Anonymous attempts to drive down the stock price of a company you’re considering buying down the road is the antithesis of ethical behavior. And worse,the radio story where I first learned about this claimed Mackey did it because it was “fun.”
If this is an America that values honesty, the FTC should deny the merger based solely on Mackey’s sneak attack.