Letter to a CEO #2

Ron Johnson, CEO
J.C. Penney
6501 Legacy Drive
Plano, TX 75024
Dear Mr. Johnson,

Congratulations! I understand you were brought on as CEO at J.C. Penney to provide the kind of leadership they need to achieve a transformation from being a drab also-ran in retail to a fun and stand-out shopping destination.

Like founder James Cash Penney, I believe in treating other people the way that I want to be treated.  I also believe in seeking out the most thoughtfully produced goods for my family: locally sourced and organic, made by workers paid a living wage and in safe conditions.

With this in mind, I want to stand up and applaud your company’s taking on Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman. She is funny, appealing, accessible and warm, and she has worked hard to get where she is today. She has a unique sense of casual style that easily stands for J.C. Penney’s brand. Ellen demonstrates daily that she knows what’s going on with people both in her TV show’s audience and with those of us who follow her on Twitter.
The announcement was met with some anti-gay backlash from the very vocal hate-filled minority of Americans who believe that open homosexuality is something to be feared. I admire your commitment to retaining Ellen as your spokeswoman.  I wish you the best of luck in creating a store where someone like me might shop.

Maggie Russell Berkes
P.O. Box XXX
North Salem NY 10560

Letter to a CEO #1

Today I wrote a letter I have been meaning to write for a while. 
Tim Cook, CEO


1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

29 January, 2012

Dear Mr. Cook:

No doubt you had a worse day than I did last Friday. The New York Times piece about working conditions in the Chinese factories Apple uses was damning, to say the least.  My 8th grader’s missing Spanish assignment pales in comparison.

I am an Apple customer. Between my husband and three children and me, we have an iPad, two iPad 2s, six iPhones, three MacBook Airs, an Apple TV and a 27” iMac.

Since your background is in operations, you may not yet be known as an innovator. You have a unique leadership opportunity to set the example for your entire industry to build devices without polluting and to employ workers humanely, by insisting on safe working conditions.  The energy your company spends to defend itself against critics of these practices could be invested in vigorously pursuing what you know is just. Your legacy could be leading the way for your entire industry to build better, cleaner machines which do not just reflect your design specifications, but your values.  Be the innovator who raises the bar for sourcing ethics.

I do not exaggerate to say that as loyal customers we would gladly pay more for products made by workers who do not require suicide nets to keep them from flinging themselves from the windows. Better still, bring the manufacturing of Apple products back to the United States, as President Obama asked in his State of the Union address last week.

Sincerely yours,

Maggie Russell Berkes

P.O. Box XXX

North Salem, NY 10560