Hubert Joly Returns Best Buy. Now Trying to Fix Capitalism.


What was the moment when you realized that the things we were doing were not working?

My journey on this subject goes back to the early 90’s. When I started Best Buy, the key advice from investors and management was cut, cut, cut. Close the stores. Fire everybody. We did the opposite. We listened to the pioneers. We considered reducing the number of people as a last resort. So philosophy was there from the beginning.

If you think of business first by thinking about how you want to be remembered as a person, most of us are tempted by the golden rule – to do something good for our employees. If you can connect that desire in your heart with the way you run the business, employees will love the company. Customers will love the company.

What were some of the obstacles you encountered while trying to turn Best Buy down?

Our main challenges were: How do you create these new strategies? How to get 100,000 thousand people to embrace them? People can chat about changing the system. If we change ourselves and change the way we run companies, I think there is so much we can do and we don’t need to blame anyone. We don’t need to be a B Corp to do good in the world.

Are there certain actions you think companies should take?

I would start by providing an attractive environment and a range of opportunities for their employees. Increasing the minimum wage is a very important trend, but it goes beyond wages. It’s about taking care of your employees, including their mental health or voting abilities. Progression is about the way of acquiring skills. It’s about providing a growth environment where you feel you belong, where you feel your manager is invested in you, where you can connect what drives you to your business.

Others are about developing a concrete plan to be carbon neutral and making sure you are a good member of the community in which you operate.

If companies are to pay more and more taxes to workers, doesn’t that mean there will be less profit for managers and investors at the end of the day? For the people who have the most power right now to change these things, it’s a hard sell.

My experience has been that you can actually create more shareholder value by taking this stakeholder approach. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy, and it takes time. If I told investors in 2012, “I’m going to go $15 an hour right now,” that wouldn’t make sense. So we did over time. It’s like if I wanted to lose 20 pounds overnight, you couldn’t. It takes time.


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