FUBU President/CEO Daymond John, an investor on the ABC reality show Shark Tank, said most people are always going to think powerful corporations and “anything with money is bad.”
John was the host of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Corporate Citizenship Awards in Washington, where corporations including UnitedHealth Group, Walmart and Capital One were honored for community service.
“A lot of times people are right about corporations. A lot of times they are wrong and in the circle where you are seeing these individuals, how many people realize what UPS is doing in regards to planting 1 million trees? How many people will know that besides other corporations? It will always be the everyday person’s view that powerful, large – anything with money is bad, but that’s not really what we should be concentrating on. I like the corporations here that are concentrating on giving back no matter what,” John told PJ Media in an interview at the event.
“If you’re fortunate enough to then work in nonprofits or foundations, those nonprofits or foundations call on these corporations who really believe in them to fund a lot of their programs so those are the people who see it and then sooner or later the people who need the help, disaster relief and people like that, they get it,” he added.
John said when FUBU first gave away a lot of money to foundations, the company was hesitant to promote the decision for fear of looking like they were “profiting off people’s hardships.”
“After a while, people said ‘you never give back to anybody,’ so we actually had to announce when we did that and I used to feel horrible. I used to feel like: why am I giving away a million dollars and I have to tell everybody and it got to a point where I said, ‘You know what, I don’t care what they are going to say about me.’ I’m going to do it because I’m supposed to do it and I care,” he said.
“It is a fine line because if your initiative is to go out and tell the world that you are doing it, maybe that’s just advertising and if you really care who you are doing things for and what you’re doing it for, you’re going to do it regardless of what people say about you,” John added.
UnitedHealth Group received the best corporate steward award.
According to the Chamber of Commerce, 81 percent of UnitedHealth group’s employees and 98 percent of its executives performed community volunteer work in 2013, totaling 430,000 hours. The company also contributes $60 million each year to “philanthropic and charitable work around the world.”
The best community improvement program award winner went to the Capital One Financial Corporation.
“Since Hurricane Katrina, Capital One Financial Corporation has helped to improve Gentilly, a low-income community of the New Orleans area that was hit hard by the disaster,” said the Chamber. “The company partners with 29 local organizations to grow small businesses, create affordable housing, and provide financial education.”
Walmart won the best health and wellness program award for its $2 billion “Fighting Hunger Together” initiative, dedicated to fighting hunger in America, through packaged goods and produce donations.
“Since its conception, the campaign has given $260 million in cash and $2.6 billion in in-kind donations, delivering on its commitment one year ahead of schedule,” said the Chamber.
Under John’s leadership, FUBU recorded annual sales of $350 million in 1998. In addition to working with FUBU, he currently invests in a variety of businesses on the show Shark Tank. John was asked what he thinks the federal government should do to help small businesses.
“There’s a lot that could be said on that and I really don’t get into politics, but of course I’m a small business in comparison to when you look at businesses,” John said.
“Do I think there could be more incentives to employ more people in America? Do I think there could be ways that I don’t have to pay as much to make sure that my people get what they need as basic rights in regards to medical and health? Yes I do, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m part of the voting process as we all are. We just have to make our voice known,” he added.
President Obama has proposed raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour nationally. John was asked about the impact of implementing a $10.10 minimum wage on the economy.
“I don’t think it will have – I don’t know. You’re going to have to talk to an economist about that – most of my people get paid more than minimum wage,” he responded.