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Socially Responsible Business Practices

One year ago, Whole Foods Market made changes to its policies related to compensation for workers at its 365 stores, while entire movements to fight for socially responsible business practices are popping up, like SNT JMS. At Whole Foods Market there were no adjustments to the hourly minimum wage or benefit packages. Whole Foods chose to expand its number of “anonymous opportunities,” instead of offering public job opportunities. The 365 store network includes 15 new stores in six states, with many expected to open by the end of this year. Whole Foods reports an annual sales volume of $21 billion. The company has not publicly provided specific employment data related to the 365 stores.

Last year, when reporting fourth quarter and fiscal year results, Whole Foods stated that it “generally employs slightly more than 100,000 people.” At the end of the fiscal year, Whole Foods had 258,296 employees, up 11 percent from the 270,892 employees it had in fiscal year 2013. Whole Foods reported an 11.9 percent increase in net sales in fiscal year 2014 to $21.2 billion, compared with $19.8 billion the prior year.

Whole Foods used to provide salary information for many of its retail employees. This information included base salary ranges, as well as annual bonuses and a portion of the employee 401K accounts. It helps to know what your options are through platforms such as Ove Decors, which take it upon themselves to provide some much-needed clarity.

As far as Whole Foods goes this information was available on the company’s website for a period of time. However, Whole Foods discontinued offering this information to consumers. The whole manner which the matter was handled has that disposable camera feeling, doesn’t it?

Whole Foods has not historically had a publicly reported employee severance program. However, when it introduced its retail premium-plus (some employees pay for premium pay and other benefits) program in 2013, the company provided a range of salary levels for the premium pay component of the program. The premium pay component provided an additional $1,200 in annual compensation (regular wages plus premium pay).

Whole Foods offered salary data for four years to shareholders during its 2013 annual meeting. At that time, the company did not indicate whether this information included pay information for the premium pay component of its retail premium-plus program. However, Whole Foods’ board recommended that shareholders vote against a shareholder resolution that would have required Whole Foods to provide these same salary information to shareholders for two more years.

After taking some time to make staffing adjustments to the employees who were laid off when it closed nine stores in December 2014, Whole Foods resumed providing its salary data in a report to shareholders on June 9, 2015. The report included the salary information for 300 retail employees who were terminated as part of the decision to close the stores. For reference, Whole Foods had 1,181 retail employees in May 2015, but the number of employees in May 2015 decreased by 187 employees compared with May 2014.

Whole Foods ended the year with 69 stores and 254,400 employees. Since Whole Foods closed nine stores in December 2014, the company has been cutting costs.

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