You should be sad if Best Buy were gone

Yes, I work at Best Buy and despite our recent stumbles (CEO resigns amid personal conduct probe, big miss of earnings in 2011, forgetting to deliver products by Christmas, everyone saying we’ll go out of business slowly, than quickly) I’m quite proud of the company.  As the Chief Architect of the .com website, we definitely have our work cut out for us over the next few years.

However, what bothers me is the feeling that many people seem ecstatic over the potential demise of the last big box electronics retailer.  While you may think our customer service is bad and that driving to a store and finding the item you wanted is out-of-stock (even though the website said the store had it in stock) is extraordinarily annoying, if Best Buy were gone it would put 180,000 or so people out of work and another big hole in Minnesota’s economy.

Even if you don’t care about that, hopefully you care about social engagement and corporate social responsibility.  One thing I can say after two years at Best Buy is that, as a whole, Best Buy has its heart in the right place.  We may fail but we try hard to put our customers first, we care about the employee environment, and we care about the communities in which we do business.

Just to list a few CSR items that I’m aware of:

  1. We recently completed a complete audit of our supply chain for labor abuses.
  2. We collect used electronic equipment for free at all stores.
  3. We donated $5 million to Fukushima relief along with millions more donated to other causes.
  4. We sent hundreds of care packages to our U.S. military last December.

And you don’t have to believe me, Forbes was impressed with our efforts if not all the results.  Or take a look at our Annual Sustainability Reports.  While we’re not to the point of triple bottom line reporting yet, we’re doing a lot more than paying lip service to sustainability.

Finally, it’s just a cool place to work; for the first time ever, my kids think I have a cool job.  Having worked at over 20 different organizations, I’ve also experienced many substandard environments.  Best Buy is highly employee centric from ROWE to the general environment.  The campus was created to promote networking and the general buzz around campus is energetic.  Despite our woes people are engaged and aggressively trying to work our way out of this current trough.  You can argue whether the strategies we’re embarking on are valid but you can’t argue with the will to survive and thrive.

So while there may be more efficient ways to deliver electronics to the market and many find the push to upsell everyone to protection plans and buy back reprehensible, if Best Buy disappeared it would be one more data point that treating your employees like adults is a failing strategy.  Just one less reasonable workplace in the world hopefully makes you at least a little sad.

 

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