Tom Gardner: Recap

Tom Gardner, Co-founder and CEO of the Motley Fool, presented to the Business Ethics Society on Wednesday, February 13th.  His presentation entitled, Conscious Capitalism and Foolishness, focused on the discussion of various attributes that make a corporation enjoyable to work at, own, or invest in.  Tom talked at length about the importance of having a high employee retention rate to maintain a successful business over an extended period of time.  He spoke about six specific factors that have significant influence on a company’s ability to retain its employees, and ultimately achieve long-term success.

First, he identified a living wage for all employees as the most important requirement of a conscious company.  In the absence of a living wage, employees will feel undervalued, discouraged, and unhappy, which limits their productivity and detracts value from the company.


Tom then spoke about the necessity of providing employees with goal-oriented, purpose driven work.  It is crucial for employees to know that they are working to accomplish a specific goal and that everything they are doing is serving a purpose for the overall success of the company.  Next, the discussion shifted to the importance of creating a work environment that is full of great people.  People are the life-blood of an organization and without great people a company will not be successful.  The fourth factor Tom discussed was employees that were encouraged to grow and develop by taking on challenges.  He proposed that employees are more likely to think creatively, achieve valuable results, and enjoy their job if they feel empowered and challenged by their work.  The fifth characteristic of a successful company is flexibility.  Companies that demonstrate the first four qualities and also provide employees with flexible schedules are those that are most likely to retain employees and succeed over time.  Lastly, he presented the opportunity to experience big financial gains as a factor for employee retention.  However, without the first five factors, a big financial upside is rather ineffective.  Contrarily, Tom identified short-term incentives (large financial gains) as a primary root of unethical behavior.  Ultimately, when deciding what company to work for, own, or invest in, it is important to take all of these factors into consideration.

We would like to thank Mr. Gardner for kindly sacrificing his time to educate, amuse, and enrich the members of the BES.

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