From free child care to unlimited annual leave, companies are continually striving to foster an environment where their employees can flourish. What if I told you the best program to inspire employees would ask them to work more?
Whole Foods Market has been sending our Team Members around the world for nearly a decade to volunteer on a broad range of projects from building efficient cook stoves in Guatemala to working at orphanages in India. This didn't immediately help us sell more groceries, but many would say this is the best thing our company has created to fulfill our core value to support Team Member excellence and happiness.
Creating an authentic corporate culture takes work. Whole Foods Market has been refining and evolving our company since we first opened as a single store in 1980 in Austin, TX. One of the most pivotal moments in our company's history was the creation of our Declaration of Interdependence and the first five core values. These elements have been the bedrock of our culture and the pillars from which we make decisions.
In 2004, Whole Planet Foundation was created as a way to give back to our global communities. We have long believed that it is entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial spirit that has the power to make systemic change, whether that be our broken food system or global poverty. For the past 10 years, Whole Planet Foundation has been working to alleviate poverty by supporting the world's most marginalized entrepreneurs in partnership with the leading Microfinance institutions, across 63 countries.
At the outset of Whole Planet Foundation's formation, we knew our success would be dependent on our ability to inspire Whole Foods Market Team Members. Their passion to make the world a better place and daily connection to our customers have been fundamental in our mission to reach as many people as possible.
As a Return Peace Corps Volunteer, our Executive Director, Philip Sansone knew the best way to inspire Team Members would be to offer a hands-on experience in the communities where we worked. The Whole Foods Market Team Member Volunteer Program was born with five primary goals:
- Experience the work of Whole Planet Foundation and our partners
- Meet the local producers of the products sold at Whole Foods Market
- Work on a community service project in partnership with a local NGO
- Explore some of the great sights of the destination country
- Return to their stores and share their experiences
Many Team Members cite their volunteer experience as the most impactful of their lives. In addition to their service around the world, they have brought their passion back to our stores and have become the engine behind helping Whole Planet Foundation commit more than $60M to poverty alleviation around the world.
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