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Whole Foods Co-CEO Calls for ‘New Capitalism’

NEW YORK — With the government under spending constraints and many Americans still struggling economically, the need for businesses to embrace social responsibility is great, said Walter Robb, co-chief executive officer, Whole Foods Market, in a presentation here Monday.

“It’s a world that needs compassion,” Robb said during a panel discussion at the National Retail Federation Annual Convention & Expo here. He called for a “new capitalism” that can improve lives while thriving as a business.

He cited the response of many Whole Foods stores in the New York City area and in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, when they sought to provide food and beverages to the community even though the stores were without power.

Read more: Whole Foods Top Food Retail Stock in 2012

He also noted that the Whole Foods Foundation has been active in promoting gardens in urban communities and in supplying schools with salad bars.

“The lines blur between profit and non-for-profit,” he said. “It all comes together.”

Read more: Whole Foods Still Feeling Sandy Impact

He said the relationship Whole Foods has with its employees and the company’s efforts in social responsibility feed off of each other. The company has less than 10% annual voluntary turnover, and 40% of workers have an ownership stake in the company through stock options.

“People stay not just because they want the paycheck, but because they want to be involved and participate in making the world a better place,” he said.

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