The latest news about Wal-Mart?

July 5, 2006

The largest retailer in the world wants to lead in business sustainability. The company has committed to prioritize the area of climate and renewable energy, waste reduction, recycling and the development of sustainable products. The goal is to have 100% renewable energy and produces zero waste. They are hoping to decrease the gas emissions by 20 percent over the next seven years, double the fuel efficiency of its truck fleet within 10 years and reduce solid waste by 25 percent in the next three years.

This is great news but I think Wal-Mart has a very bad reputation in the way of doing their business. I am tempted to say that they are doing the “Cowboy economy”. The cowboy economy is about exploitation and having cheap products at lower cost and not renewable products. It seems to me that they are only looking at profitability and exploitation of human resources. For example in Canada we had one Wal-Mart store who voted to have union at their work place. They believed the salary and working condition were not acceptable. So the response from Wal-Mart was to close the store.

Is Wal-Mart doing the cowboy economy or trying to look good by having a development sustainable strategy? I think they are doing both by trying to change their image. They want to follow the trend by having a clean business profile. This company seems to have one way of doing business and it is” my way or the high way”.

On the other hand if Wal-Mart is very serious of doing sustainable development the impact should be significant. The leader retailer can impose to business industries. At the moment, Wal-Mart has a lot to prove to the world that they can change their business practice. We need to see them in action.

Francois Lemaire

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Posted in corporate sustainability, sustainable development
3 comments on “The latest news about Wal-Mart?
  1. Jason Charron says:

    Wal-Mart’s business model is based on anti-sustainable development practices. Isn’t Wal-Mart’s business model based on high volume, low cost, low quality products? They got where they are through the systematic exploitation of their staff and suppliers. To introduce SD to Wal-Mart is to fundamentally change its mode-of-operandi.

  2. emmanuelle says:

    I agree that such an initiative seems to be fully profitable to the environment, and that it would of course increasingly improve the reputation of Wal-Mart.
    However, I wonder if such policies are hypocritical. What are the real intentions of those newly environment-friendly firms? Do they really mean well, or do they just want to prove on the forefront their good intentions?

  3. Ron says:

    If Wal-Mart has a bad reputation, why do people still shop there? The continue to be profitable with ROE of >20% and an increase in sales.
    Unfortunately, SD is a topic of few individuals. The majority of the population demand low price products. Is the problem Wal-Mart or with the people that shop in their stores?

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