Melissa Reiff, The Container Store – Hero of Conscious Capitalism
The Container Store CEO Melissa Reiff is a proud conscious capitalist who has built a model “employee-first culture.” That culture is based on the company’s values-based Foundation Principles – a set of business philosophies that focus on treating ALL of the organization’s stakeholders with responsibility, respect, and dignity. This approach has led to The Container Store having “an industry-defying average turnover rate of around 10 percent (the industry average approaches 100 percent annually).” In fact, Reiff’s stakeholder-based leadership at The Container Store has been a case study for students of business and corporate responsibility alike.
Many of Reiff’s methods are based specifically on conscious leadership and the need for companies to have a higher purpose, executives who practice servant-leadership, and a conscious culture that is always listening, always improving and always striving to do what is right. As is explained on The Container Store’s website, “Our company runs its business based on seven Foundation Principles which align beautifully with the tenets of Conscious Capitalism.”
Two policies that make The Container Store stand out are a commitment to train each employee in a variety of skills and scenarios and to pay their salespeople more than industry average. In a market where most similar companies barely give their new hires 8 hours of preparation, The Container Store gives new full-time hires more than 200 hours of training and education. This continued and comprehensive skill-building, competitive pay, and positive corporate culture have kept the company’s 5,000 employees happy, loyal, and productive. This has been good for business and has resulted in many awards, including making FORTUNE magazine’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For list for 18 years in a row.
Reiff has also taken aim at sustainability, implementing a new recycling program, reducing the number of supply trucks used in favor of rail, and replacing older inefficient air conditioners and lighting. Doing this helps protect the environment her company relies on while boosting the bottom line in the long-term.
Another initiative that The Container Store has undertaken is to benefit the communities around them. Part of this includes a $236,000 donation to UNICEF USA, donating 10% of grand opening weekend sales to a local nonprofit at new store openings, providing containers to those in need, and discounts for educators. Reiff is also active in mentoring and aiding new businesswomen through the American Marketing Association, the International Women’s Foundation, and the C200.
Reiff continues to receive recognition for her leadership, including being named as one of the 2015 National Retail Federation’s 25 People Shaping Retail’s Future, one of the 2015 Dallas Business Journal’s Women in Business, and in 2014 D Magazine’s Top 5 Wonder Women.