A Whole(some) Apology?

A follow-up to yesterday’s post…Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has issued an apology for his Rahodeb antics.

“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.



3 Responses to “A Whole(some) Apology?”

  1. July 18, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    What else could he do but aplogize? His behavior was highly unethical, perhaps criminal. He has for years been touting himself (on his own blog) as the paragon of transparency, and then it was revealed that for seven-plus years he was touting himself and his company, and ripping a competitor, under an alias. Yes, he should be fired. The guy’s hubris is so great it took him a week of heat to force him to apologize. Actually it took several days for the media and the blogosphere to really turn on him. Why? — see: http://jon8332.typepad.com/force_for_good/2007/07/wacky-mackey-ep.html

  2. 2 Britt
    July 18, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    Would the apology have been more effective if he’d resigned at the same time?

  3. July 19, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    I think it goes to show the character of the guy overall. At some point he crossed a line and his inner conscience must have turned a deaf ear. Not sure, but If I was a stockholder, that is not the type of guy I want running the company. I accept the apology, but it does not mean I have to forgive the overall character of the man. I actually do that too, but I can see where people would still be skeptical.

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July 2007
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