In 2007, Whole Foods' controversial and colorful CEO, John Mackey, reduced his salary to $1 a year, and has continued to keep his salary low. The value of his total compensation (including bonuses), however, shot up from $33,831 in fiscal 2008 to $653,671, according to the Associated Press. (The large increase over last year's bonus is mainly the result of Mr. Mackey being paid out in 2009 for assets that were frozen in 2006 when he announced his salary reduction.)
Mackey donated the after-tax proceeds of his 2009 compensation -- $379,636 -- to Global Animal Partnership, an animal welfare group that's "committed to working collaboratively to improve the lives of farm animals," according to a statement on the organization's website. Wonder how Mackey chose the group? It turns out that he's on the board.
A Whole Foods spokesperson says that Global Animal Partnership plans to release new standards for animal treatment later this year and that Whole Foods' practices will be in keeping with the standards. It'll be interesting to see how strict the standards are, given the fact that one of the key board members and funders of the group runs a business that could be financially affected by rules that result in an increased price of animal products.
Mackey, who was the recent subject of a lengthy New Yorker profile, is certainly not your typical CEO. Two years ago the Securities and Trade Commission investigated him for surreptitiously logging onto a message board dedicated to stock of his company and writing disparaging comments about Wild Oats, a competitor he was trying to buy out and praising his own company. He even threw in an admiring comment about his own appearance including his hair. ("I think he looks cute!")
Mackey was in the news again last year when an op-ed he wrote for the Wall Street Journal opposing government-run health care resulted in a boycott of Whole Foods stores.
In a previous press statement Mackey said, "I have reached a place in my life where I no longer want to work for money, but simply for the joy of the work itself and to better answer the call to service that I feel so clearly in my own heart."