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    Whole Foods Market Exec to Discuss Sustainability: Says Capitalism Needs a New Vision in Respecting the Environment

    Feb 4, 2010

    The co-president and chief operating officer of Whole Foods Market, Walter Robb, will discuss the advantages and challenges of trying to run a business and still respect the environment. The lecture, titled "Business and Sustainability in the 21st Century - Observations of a Retailer," will start at 6 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Faye Spanos Concert Hall on the Stockton campus of University of the Pacific. It is free and open to the public.

    Walter Robb, co-president of Whole Foods MarketWhole Foods Market has worked hard to maintain ecologically sustainable and socially responsible practices. It champions organic farming and foods, promotes reusable bags in its stores, and was the first major retailer in the U.S. to offset 100 percent of its energy costs with wind power credits. Its employees get a generous 20 percent discount on all store items, and its executives' salaries are capped at 19x the average employee salary. The company sponsors a nonprofit, Whole Planet Foundation, which helps relieve poverty through microcredit loans in countries where products are sourced. Robb believes that if all the stakeholders in society worked together on environmentally sustainable and socially responsible practices, costs would go down while value to the customers would increase.

    "We have repeatedly heard claims from the business community that using alternative energies, recycling and looking for organic alternatives are too expensive and would lead many small and large businesses to financial ruin. Whole Foods Market has proven that those claims simply aren't true," said Richard Flaherty, dean of the Eberhardt School of Business. "This lecture should be of great interest to business owners and anyone interested in sustainable practice in the business environment."

    Robb, a current Pacific regent, joined Whole Foods Market in 1991 when he opened a store in Mill Valley. He was appointed president of the Northern Pacific Region in 1993 and expanded that area from two stores to 17 over the next seven years. He was named executive vice president of operations in 2000, chief operating officer in 2001 and co-president of the chain in 2004. In his current position, he oversees six of Whole Food Markets' 11 regions and serves on the Whole Planet Foundation Board of Directors.

    The event is sponsored by the Eberhardt School of Business as part of the Pacific Business Forum, a speaker series that focuses on leadership, management and other issues critical to businesses. For more information about Eberhardt, visit its Web page at http://go.pacific.edu/business.