David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool – Heroes of Conscious Capitalism
Tom and David Gardner have been beating the market since they founded The Motley Fool and have been providing great value to all their stakeholders ever since. They have created one of the best financial service companies, building an enthusiastic and well-provided for workforce that helps others achieve their investment goals. As they put it, “At the Fool, we believe people should have the freedom to follow their passion every day in roles they love. We work hard to understand the needs of our employees and deliver for them. We are confident that this, in turn, makes a great business. Take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers, who in turn take care of shareholders.”
Although the Gardner brothers could have worked for Wall Street, they instead took their financial savvy with them and created a platform for others to share their tips and they could share their knowledge. Instead of joining the big financial firms, they became their competitor, and democratized stocks in the process, providing investment access to laymen that was not possible before. When not running the Motley Fool, both brothers engage in speaking and educational activism to ensure that others understand how to invest and how to treat their employees well.
For instance, when asked about what to do if an employee gets sick, has a child, or has a cataclysmic life event happen, Tom Gardner advised that employers should work with their employee around that situation. In one article, on corporate compassion when a worker of his faced stage four cancer, he wrote: “Allow for flexible work arrangements, whether it means permitting people to work from home or letting them reduce their hours. Allocate responsibilities to teammates to alleviate workload. Make counseling services available, as well as employee assistance programs. Approach each situation with empathy, understanding, and an open heart, recognizing that work is a small part of a big life.” The Motley Fool does just that, in addition to providing an emergency “Fool in Need” fund to confidentially help employees with sudden medical burdens.
Among other measures that both brothers take to attract and retain valuable employees is to offer flexible work schedules, full medical, a casual dress code, 401K matching, free financial planning and an in-house gym trainer, 16 weeks paid leave for new parents, and host of other amenities including free healthy snacks and subsidized massages. All of this help keep the Fool’s workers happy, eager to go to work, and very, very productive. In fact, the Gardner brothers even give each person $1,000 to invest personally, along with book and tuition reimbursement to aid each person’s journey as an investment advisor.
The consequence of these policies is a culture in which over 90% of employees believe that they care about each other and a company that has succeeded and earned multiple awards, including the 204 and 2015 Best Place to Work by GlassDoor.com, the 2015 Washington Post Top Places to Work, and the 2015 Washington Business Journal Best Places to Work.
In addition, the Gardner brothers have also engaged with their communities, giving back to many nonprofits through donations and fundraisers, such as partnering with organizations that aim to improve food sustainability, food access, and job training to vulnerable communities.