Declaration of Interdependence

Whole Foods Market is a dynamic leader in the quality food business. We are a mission-driven company that aims to set the standards of excellence for food retailers. We are building a business in which high standards permeate all aspects of our company. Quality is a state of mind at Whole Foods Market.

Our motto — Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet — emphasizes that our vision reaches far beyond just being a food retailer. Our success in fulfilling our vision is measured by customer satisfaction, team member happiness and excellence, return on capital investment, improvement in the state of the environment and local and larger community support.

Our ability to instill a clear sense of interdependence among our various stakeholders (the people who are interested and benefit from the success of our company) is contingent upon our efforts to communicate more often, more openly, and more compassionately. Better communication equals better understanding and more trust.

We Sell the Highest Quality Natural and Organic Products Available

We appreciate and celebrate that great food and cooking improves the lives of all of our stakeholders. Breaking bread with others, eating healthfully and eating well — these are some of the great joys of our lives.

Our goal is to sell the highest quality products that also offer high value for our customers. High value is a product of high quality at a competitive price. Our product quality standards focus on ingredients, freshness, taste, nutritive value, safety and/or appearance. While we have very high standards for product quality, we believe that it is important to be inclusive and open minded, and not overly restrictive or dogmatic.

We Satisfy, Delight and Nourish Our Customers

Our customers are the most important stakeholder in our business. Therefore, we go to extraordinary lengths to satisfy and delight our customers. We want to meet or exceed their expectations on every shopping trip. We know that by doing so we turn customers into advocates for Whole Foods Market. We guarantee our customers 100% product satisfaction or their money will be refunded.

Outstanding customer service is a result of both our team members' skill and enthusiasm in serving our customers and their in-depth knowledge and excitement about the products we sell. We nurture a quality business relationship with our customers by daily demonstrating our customer service beliefs:

  • Customers are the lifeblood of our business and we are interdependent on each other.

  • Customers are the primary motivation for our work — they are not an interruption of our work.

  • Customers are people who bring us their wants and desires and our primary objective is to satisfy them as best we can — they are not people to argue or match wits with.

  • Customers are fellow human beings with feelings and emotions like our own; they are equals to be treated with courtesy and respect at all times.

We continually experiment and innovate in order to raise our retail standards. We create store environments that are inviting, fun, unique, informal, comfortable, attractive, nurturing and educational. We want our stores to become community meeting places where our customers come to join their friends and to make new ones. Our stores are "inclusive." Everyone is welcome, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, beliefs, or personal appearance. We value diversity — Whole Foods Market stores are for everyone.

We Support Team Member Happiness and Excellence

Our success is also dependent upon the collective energy and intelligence of all our team members. In addition to receiving fair wages and benefits, belief in the value of our work and finding fulfillment from our jobs is a key reason we are part of Whole Foods Market. Therefore, we design and promote safe work environments where motivated team members can flourish and reach their highest potential. And no matter how long a person has worked or plans to work with us, each and every team member is a valued contributor.

There are many team members in our company who "work behind the scenes" to produce product, distribute product and generally support our retail team members and customers. Although they are not as visible as our retail team members, they are integral to the success of our business.

Achieving unity of vision about the future of our company, and building trust between team members is a goal of Whole Foods Market. At the same time diversity and individual differences are recognized and honored. We aim to cultivate a strong sense of community and dedication to the company. We also realize how important leisure time, family, and community involvement outside of work is for a rich, meaningful and balanced life. We must remember that we are not "Whole Life Market."

We strive to build positive and healthy relationships among team members. "Us versus them" thinking has no place in our company. We believe that the best way to do this is to encourage participation and involvement at all levels of our business. Some of the ways we do this are:

  • Self-directed teams that meet regularly to discuss issues, solve problems and appreciate each other's contributions.

  • Increased communication through team member forums and advisory groups, and open book, open door and open people practices.

  • Labor gainsharing and other team member incentive programs.

  • Team member stock options and a stock purchase plan.

  • Commitment to make our jobs more fun by combining work and play and through friendly competition to improve our stores.

  • Continuous learning opportunities about company values, food, nutrition and job skills.

  • Equal opportunity for employment, with promotion mostly from within the company.

We Create Wealth Through Profits and Growth

We earn profits every day through voluntary exchange with our customers. We know that profits are essential to create capital for growth, job security and overall financial success. Profits are the "savings" every business needs in order to change and evolve to meet the future. They are the "seed corn" for next year's crop. We are the stewards of our shareholder's investments and we are committed to increasing long term shareholder value.

As a publicly traded company, Whole Foods Market intends to grow. We will grow at such a pace that our quality of work environment, team member productivity and excellence, customer satisfaction, and financial health continue to prosper.

There is a community of self interest among all of our stakeholders. We share together in our collective vision for the company. To that end we have a salary cap that limits the maximum cash compensation (wages plus profit incentive bonuses) paid to any team member in the calendar year to 19 times the company-wide annual average salary of all full-time team members.

We Serve and Support Our Local and Global Communities

Our business is intimately tied to the neighborhood and larger community that we serve and in which we live. The unique character of our stores is a direct reflection of the customers who shop with us. Without their support, both financial and philosophical, Whole Foods Market would not be in business. Our interdependence at times goes beyond our mutual interest in quality food and, where appropriate, we will respond. We donate 5% of our after-tax profits to not-for-profit organizations.

We Practice and Advance Environmental Stewardship

We see the necessity of active environmental stewardship so that the earth continues to flourish for generations to come. We seek to balance our needs with the needs of the rest of the planet through the following actions:

  • Supporting sustainable agriculture. We are committed to greater production of organically and bio-dynamically grown foods in order to reduce pesticide use and promote soil conservation.

  • Reducing waste and consumption of non-renewable resources. We promote and participate in recycling programs in our communities. We are committed to re-usable packaging, reduced packaging, and water and energy conservation.

  • Encouraging environmentally sound cleaning and store maintenance programs.

Our Business Associates

We are not a fully self-sustaining ecosystem. There are hundreds of other businesses that we depend on to assist us in creating an outstanding retail shopping experience for our customers. We view our trade partners as allies in serving our stakeholders. We treat them with respect, fairness and integrity and expect the same in return.

Balance and Integration

Satisfying all of our stakeholders and achieving our standards is our goal. One of the most important responsibilities of Whole Foods Market's leadership is to make sure the interests, desires and needs of our various stakeholders are kept in balance. We recognize that this is a dynamic process. It requires participation and communication by all of our stakeholders. It requires listening compassionately, thinking carefully and acting with integrity. Any conflicts must be mediated and win-win solutions found. Creating and nurturing this community of stakeholders is critical to the long-term success of our company.

Final Thoughts

Our Vision Statement reflects the hopes and intentions of many people. We do not believe it always accurately portrays the way things currently are at Whole Foods Market so much as the way we would like things to be. It is our dissatisfaction with the current reality, when compared with what is possible, that spurs us toward excellence and toward creating a better person, company, and world. When Whole Foods Market fails to measure up to its stated vision, as it inevitably will at times, we should not despair. Rather let us take up the challenge together to bring our reality closer to our vision. The future we will experience tomorrow is created one step at a time today.

The Declaration of Interdependence was created originally in 1985 by 60 team members who volunteered their time. It has been updated in 1988, 1992 and 1997.