Whole Foods Market co-founder and co-CEO John Mackey will bring his rallying cry for "do-good capitalism" to Davis next month, part of a 21-city book tour across the country.
His mission: to erase American capitalism's greed-and-profit reputation by showing how successful companies can make money and boost quality-of-life factors for their customers, employees and suppliers.
He'll speak on Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. in UC Davis' Freeborn Hall during a Q&A with UCD Graduate School of Management Dean Steven Currall. Afterward, Mackey will sign copies of his book, "Conscious Capitalism," co-authored with marketing professor Raj Sisodia and published by Harvard Business Review Press.
The Whole Foods CEO is "introducing new concepts that don't call for scrapping the capitalist model," Currall said in an email, "but rather a 'refreshment and realignment' that moves business toward a more balanced orientation, emphasizing both financial success and community prosperity."
The free event, open to the public, is co-sponsored by Capital Public Radio. Seating is limited.
For reservations, go to: gsm.ucdavis.edu/mackey.
This week, Mackey is speaking in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. In addition to the book, he and his co-author have launched ConsciousCapitalism.org, a nonprofit, to promote their ideas.
A pioneer in the organic grocery niche, Mackey started with a single natural food outlet in Austin, Texas, in 1978. Today, Whole Foods is an $11 billion, Fortune 300 company with 73,000 employees, known for its upscale, organic produce, eco-minded products and charitable foundations.
Its 350 locations in the U.S., Canada and Britain include outlets in Davis, Folsom, Roseville and Sacramento. Currently on an expansion kick, Whole Foods has 70 pending new stores in the United States, including eight in California.
The outspoken Mackey has been a magnet for controversy over the years, and his book tour is no exception. Last week, in an interview on NPR, he was asked about Obamacare health care mandates and the costs imposed on businesses. The plan, he said, was akin to "fascism."
That remark, aired on national radio, caused a stir and led to some talk of store protests. A day later, he apologized, saying in a blog post on Whole Foods' website that he regretted his "poor use of an emotionally charged word."
But, he added, the U.S. would still be better off with a system like Switzerland's that combines private-sector health care choices with a government safety net.
For the last 15 years, Whole Foods has consistently made Forbes magazine's list of "Best Companies to Work For," partly because the organic grocer offers health care, even to its part-timers. As for Mackey, he's been taking a $1 annual salary since 2006.