“What will matter 100 years from now: Your organic fruit, or the fact that you chose not to stand up for children who have been sexually abused?” That was the question I posed to Whole Foods Market executives on Tuesday, February 28th, at the Omni Hotel in downtown San Francisco. Myself along with other key business leaders, anti-animal abuse organizations and child sexual abuse advocates, came together that day to encourage Co-CEO John Mackey to disavow his relationship from alleged child sexual abuser Marc Gaffni. 

Standing out in the middle of the busy, midday street in San Francisco, with a microphone, protest signs and my sheer will to back me up, I shouted why I thought that Whole Foods and their partnering nonprofit, Conscious Capitalism, were not the ethical or social leaders that they claimed to be. For over a year, attempted communications have been made with them, asking for Mackey to at least make a statement about Gafni’s relationship with a 14 year old. But Mackey has yet to release such a statement, and instead, has chosen to remain silent, a tactic that is familiar to those of us who have been sexually abused.

If Mackey is as “conscious” as he says he is, then he should be self-aware enough to recognize that he has an enormous potential to reach out to a large percentage of consumers who have been sexually abused. For Whole Foods, excelling in business is not just about the quality of their food, it’s about changing the lives of consumers. If the Whole Foods brand merely sits as a superficial brand, then it fails to sustain for very long. With the rise of social media, consumers are becoming more and more educated every day, and businesses have to live up to higher expectations than ever before. With the platform that Mackey has, it’s time for Whole Foods and Conscious Capitalism to break from the standard business model. Leave a legacy that helps humankind overcome some of the worst suffering ever known; in this way, they will be modeling true consciousness.