Was the Walmart Pay Raise Real Leadership?

Walmart made waves last week announcing  pay increases for their workers. The Wall Street Journal cast this as a pure labor market move – prompted by an increasingly competitive environment for retail workers. Walmart, of course, promoted this as a double-bottom line move that reflects the needs of their workers as well as something they need to do to remain competitive.


So, which was it?.

This shift provides an interesting lens through which to explore what leadership really is, and what meets the test for different types of leadership.

What is effective business leadership when you run one of the largest employers of low wage workers in the world and serve primary segments that are low and moderate income?

What is moral leadership in this context?

Can the two intersect when groups of large shareholders might believe a wage hike to be a violation of managers being fiduciaries? (It’s notable that WMT’s share price took a hit right after this was announced).

I actually believe it was an authentic expression of both effective business leadership and moral leadership. Walmart has taken a beating from the left for years because of the way it treats workers – and rightly so. They have traditionally paid very poorly, and have had a business model with incredibly high attrition rates for workers – signalling that they have a view of their workforce as heavily commodified, perhaps at the expense of being as humane as needed.

To me, the pay increase is a signal of an authentic shift. I believe this for three primary reasons: Continue reading


Takeaways from “What Can Business Learn From Social Movements?”

Event: Impact Speaker Series – What Can Business Learn From Social Movements?

Speakers: Douglas Atkin, Paula Goodman
Date: Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Last week, Douglas Atkin (Global Head of Community at Airbnb) and Paula Goodman (Global Head of Impact Investing at Omidyar Networkgave us their insight on how a business might successfully reach out to and establish a loyal, united, active group of consumers by borrowing fundamental principles of social movements. Here are the some of the takeaways from the event: Continue reading

Eric Abrams joins 826 Valencia’s Board of Directors


eric abrams

Eric Abrams, Directory of Diversity Initiatives at Haas
Board Member, 826 Valencia, San Francisco, CA
Board Member, Making Waves Academy, Richmond, CA

Eric Abrams is a familiar face around Haas, having joined the School in 2012 as the Director of Diversity Initiatives.  Eric interacts comfortably with all of his Haas partners – staff, faculty, and students – and it was in one of these interactions with Amy Chou, MBA ‘16 and Berkeley Board Fellow at 826 Valencia, that led to Eric’s election as Member to 826 Valencia’s Board of Directors in January.

It was a casual hallway conversation; Amy shared with Eric that she was a Berkeley Board Fellow for 826 Valencia.  Eric welcomed an opportunity to get involved with the group, and after Amy made an introduction to the Executive Director, Eric toured the office and observed a board meeting indicating an interest to be on the board.  At the following board meeting, Eric was voted in.  The Haas network at work! Continue reading

Community Partner Spotlight – San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment

sf ofe logoThe San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment (SF OFE) helps the city’s lower-income residents gain greater financial security and enter the “financial mainstream.” A private-public partnership housed within the Office of City and County Treasurer José Cisneros, the SF OFE uses the strength and influence of the City Hall as well as of its nonprofit partners to help the City’s underserved communities access financial education and counseling, low-cost checking and savings accounts, college savings accounts, electronic pay solutions, responsible payday loans, and more. Continue reading