CEOs of consumer-facing businesses tend to be either reticent or vague about political matters for fear of offending potential customers. No so Mackey, who early on in the book mentions reading free-enterprise thinkers like Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Jude Wanniski, Henry Hazlitt, and Thomas Sowell. “I learned that free enterprise, when combined with property rights, innovation, the rule of law, and constitutionally limited democratic government, results in societies that maximize societal prosperity and establish conditions that promote human happiness and well-being—not just for the rich, but for the larger society, including the poor,”
To the extent that Mackey wants to change current business practices—and he does—he writes that “the lead agents of change need to be those who are engaged in business—not politicians, bureaucrats, or regulators.” This, too, makes plenty of sense.
Here the book argues that “conscious capitalism”—an approach that gives a high priority not only to shareholders but also to “stakeholders” such as customers, suppliers, and employees, and that emphasizes a business mission other than profits—is “the secret to sustained high performance.”
Mackey’s best example is his own company. Its mission includes “to help end poverty around the word.” It has a policy that “caps the total cash compensation, including bonuses, for any team member at nineteen times the average pay of all team members.” It has a decentralized management approach and an innovative and flexible approach to non-cash benefits for employees.