Affordable healthcare is fascism? It didn’t take long for Whole Foods CEO John Mackey to admit that it probably was a “poor choice of words” to say Obamacare was “more like fascism” during a recent interview. (Apparently, the intense slam of negative media coverage gave him foot-in-mouth syndrome.) But this CEO’s attempt to explain his phrasing and opposition to healthcare reform just might have dug him—and Whole Foods’ reputation—into a deeper hole.
Rather than recant his statement during a follow-up damage-control interview, Mackey reiterated that Obamacare and healthcare reform are the cause of his company’s increasing business costs, which he insinuated would be passed down to employees.
When asked how he thought Obamacare would affect his business in the next few years, Mackey replied:
As the costs go up, you’re not required to provide healthcare for part-time workers, under 30 hours. So there will be a strong temptation for businesses to keep people under 30 hours, so they don’t have to provide healthcare. And you will have a lot of part-time workers and fewer full-time workers, a lot of people underemployed.
Whole Foods … has always had a higher mix of full-time to part-time workers, like 80 percent full-time and 20 percent part-time, which is very rare in retail. But I suspect as our healthcare costs are driven up by healthcare reforms, then we’ll end up gradually lowering our full-time ratio to a much lower number.
Costs go up and high-paid executives let their employees foot the bill? So much for the company’s mission that “companies, like individuals, must assume their share of responsibility as tenants of Planet Earth,” which is outlined on the Whole Foods website.
With that kind of “fairness,” Mackey should be less worried about “crony capitalism” and more worried about crony management—and how it’s going to affect Whole Foods’ corporate reputation. Perhaps if he had watched the news, Mackey would have seen the flack that Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter received for blaming Obamacare for raising pizza costs and handing out pink slips.
For a look at CEOs who embody the values of inclusion and make a personal investment in their commitment to diversity, watch these videos of 8 CEOs Whose Inclusive Styles Change Corporate Cultures.