“I sincerely apologize to all Whole Foods Market stakeholders for my error in judgment in anonymously participating on online financial message boards. I am very sorry and I ask our stakeholders to please forgive me.”
His apology may not be enough to save his job, and I have my doubt about whether it saves his individual integrity.
Throughout history, we’ve seen repeated examples of individuals whose not so great behavior becomes public. Then, on the proverbial bended knee, these same individuals come begging for our “forgiveness.” Politicians are famous for such campaigns. However, what’s left after the campaign is complete?
Politicians may enjoy our “forgiveness” at the ballot box. Movie stars prone to public rants about whatever “ism” bothers them may still pack them in on opening night if they’ve undergone the requisite sensitivity training. And CEOs may keep their jobs—for now—with a public apology after taking anonymous jabs at competitors.
Maybe I’m in the minority, but with every peccadillo, every rant, every underhanded maneuver, I lose more respect for those individuals. Those events stick out a hundred times longer than the positives, especially if it seems so contrary to the original vision I held of an individual. In many instances, they never get my respect back. And realistically, they don’t really want my forgiveness or my respect. They want my vote, my money, or something else that contributes to their success.
Any potential good said individuals may accomplish will always exist under a shadow of previous behavior. For businessmen like John Mackey, sometimes the only thing you have that separates you from everyone else is your credibility. With this incident, his credibility is damaged, and a brief, two-sentence apology doesn’t really change things.
People may remember John Mackey as the dynamic co-founder of a company that changed how the retailing world viewed organic food. I suspect, as many, if not more will also remember his starring role as Rahodeb. Unfortunately for Mr. Mackey, he should have passed on the role and let someone else be the anonymous hack.