Interview and Discussion with Walter Robb Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, Inc.
Terry: Let’s start by reminding our stakeholders what Whole Foods’ purpose is, and how that impacts your business.
Walter: At the beginning it was really about just bringing healthier food to the world. That was when we started in the late seventies, early eighties, it was about “whole food”, with a small “w.” There was a notion about creating a workplace based on love and respect. I don’t think we had the words for it then, but that’s kind of what we started out to do: create a place that was fun to work, that had a different sort of feeling to it. The great thing about purpose is that it evolves over time. As you grow as a person, as you grow as a company, you can keep coming back to that question of why are you here, what are you here to do? And so, for Whole Foods now, we also talk about how we want to do that work, it’s the qualities in which the company operates and behaves in the marketplace, as well as what it’s doing. And again, this idea of fun has come through with the fact that we’re grocers. We sell food, people gather around the table, and all those things together now say our purpose is healthier foods, with courage, integrity, quality, and have fun at the same time.
Terry: What do you think the benefits are of being a company that’s purpose driven?