3 Ethical Business Leaders & What You Can Learn From Them

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Dr Jonas Salk passes up on a potential $7 billion.

Turns out vaccines are pretty bloody important.

On March 26 1953, Dr Jonas Salk announced that he had created a successful polio vaccine.

Just the year prior, polio had infected 58,000 and killed 3,000, mainly affecting children, leading to it being dubbed “infant paralysis”.

What was really remarkable about Dr Jonas Salk aside from his scientific genius, was that he refused to patent his vaccine (the only one at the time) keeping prices low and availability high.

When adjusted for inflation, this move sacrificed an estimated total of $7 billion.

Special shout out also goes to Dr Albert Sabin who developed a different polio vaccine shortly after that but also refused to patent it. I know he would really appreciate that shout out from me but he’s very dead and I’m a nobody.

Patagonia gives it’s tax break money to environmental causes.

The fashion industry sucks (mostly).

Often exploiting both people’s insecurities and actual people, it’s generally also terrible for the environment. So bad in fact, that fashion is estimated to be the second worst polluter by industry.

Patagonia is both a fashion brand and a massive corporation, and the inside of that particular Venn diagram is a circle of hell full of actual demons, slow walkers and Katie Hopkins.

However, in 2018, Donald Trump took the uncharacteristic decision to cut US corporations tax from 35% to 21%.

For Patagonia this meant an extra $10 million in the coffers. With $10 million, Nike could (under)pay 4930 sweatshop employees for a whole year at a whopping 65 cents an hour!

But Patagonia decided to donate the money to grassroots environmental activist groups and even publicly denounced the tax cuts as irresponsible, with CEO Rose Marcario stating “Being a responsible company means paying your taxes in proportion to your success and supporting your state and federal governments, which in turn contribute to the health and well-being of civil society”.

Right on Patagonia!

Dan Price of Gravity Payments takes a pay cut to give his staff a $70k minimum wage.

This one is pretty well known so apologies if I’m repeating what you have already heard. I’ll do an “unethical business moves” post one day that's a bit more varied, lot of meat on that one.

Anyways, Dan Price is the CEO and co-founder of Gravity Payments, who process credit card payments.

Dangerously close to banking there, but we move on.

Dan made huge headlines in 2013 when he decided to take a paycut and boost all employees salaries to a minimum $70,000. This wasn’t a random PR stunt either, as it was a reaction to the collapse of a bill designed to reduce tax for the middle class, which would have helped Gravity Payment's employees immensely.

On hearing the news, always calm and measured Rush Limbaugh took to the always level headed medium of Fox News to say he hoped that Gravity Payments became “a case study in MBA programs on how socialism does not work, because it's gonna fail” which is a really swell thing to say on national television about a bunch of people trying to put food on the table.

Jokes on him though, because Gravity Payments profits doubled, productivity jumped from 30% to 40%, they maintained a 91% employee retention rate against an industry average of 68% and Rush Limbaugh is dead.

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