Italy’s “king of cashmere” is giving employees a cultural allowance to spark their creativity

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Brunello Cucinelli, the founder and CEO of the eponymous Italian fashion house, is known for his luxury cashmere but also for his love of arts and culture and for his philosophy of what he calls a “humanistic enterprise.”

In line with a certain Italian industrial tradition, he has striven to put ethical and human values at the center of his company, and has created his own utopian society in Solomeo, the medieval village near Perugia where the company is based, and where Cucinelli reinvests up to 20% of his profits.

In a country of high unemployment and low wages, Cucinelli’s workers are paid generously, take long communal lunches, and are encouraged to further their education. This has served him well: The company has grown since its founding in 1978 and revenue rose 16.4% last year to  €414.9 million ($473 million; pdf, p. 21).

Thus Cucinelli has taken a new step by encouraging employees to expand their interests. His cashmere empire will offer employees a “cultural allowance.”

Employees will be reimbursed for money spent on culturally enriching activities—such as going to exhibitions, or the theatre—up to €500 a year for singles and €1000 for those with families.

A press representative told Quartz that Cucinelli himself declared the bonus will help his artisans create better products because, in the CEO’s words, “creativity is where there is beauty.” The bonus will also “promote the discovery of Italy’s enormous cultural and artistic heritage,” he said.