VOL. 133 | NO. 87 | Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Conscious Capitalism: A Conversation With Selim Bassoul
Editor’s note: Selim Bassoul is CEO of The Middleby Corp., an Elgin, Illinois-based manufacturer of commercial kitchen equipment, residential appliances and systems for industrial processing.
Please tell me the Middleby definition of conscious capitalism.
We define it as socially responsible business, both locally and globally.
How does Middleby use the CC model in its operations? How does it measure and report the outcomes?
The hallmark of Middleby management is that we lead by example. We have a culture of very few layers and all employees can make an impact. My door is open for any employee to see me when I am in the office, or I make it a practice to be on the shop floors whenever possible. We pride ourselves on the unique culture we have built free of management layers and memos and an environment where ideas can flow freely.
What type of hard and soft benefits has Middleby seen as a result of this working philosophy?
We have a 98 percent employee retention rate and we proudly boast most of our management team has been with us more than 10 years. Employees want to align themselves with a company that shares their beliefs. Through being a company practicing conscious capitalism we have gained loyalty from employees and customers.
What role can business play in the national and global culture? Explain.
As companies, we have expertise in our product or service. As people, we have certain ideas that ignite our passion. Use your company experience and that invaluable human capital to reach beyond your neighborhood. Businesses should look globally and always consider if what they are doing will benefit the greater good. For example, Middleby supports culinary schools and students. But we also support those who are in a challenging time in their life, by offering them training and helping them secure jobs in restaurants and the food service industry. Our programs began as a local effort, grew to a national program, and now we are proud to be training workers who have made past mistakes in life for restaurant employment around the globe.
How does the work of the Bassoul Dignity Foundation build on Middleby’s outreach and social engagement platform?
When my wife and I formed the foundation, the Middleby employees were very excited. For years I have worked with the best engineers in the industry who have received the highest awards for designing the most innovative and technologically advanced commercial cooking equipment. I asked them to put their skills to the test so we could work together to develop the relief oven. They were thrilled to be asked to be part of the project. The platforms are the same, both at Middleby and with the foundation: Quite simply we want to help people both locally and globally, using our expertise. While there are so many more areas to serve around the world, we all feel like, even if in a small way, we are making a difference.
Michael Graber, managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, can be reached at southerngrowthstudio.com.