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Walmart has been the subject of much attention recently, thanks in part to the publication of its corporate social responsibility report. So, what exactly is Walmart’s corporate social responsibility policy, and what are the key takeaways we can learn from this? Let’s take a look in more detail.
Social Responsibility: Key Takeaways
- Wages and benefits for employees
As part of its corporate social responsibility efforts, Walmart has increased the average hourly wage of full-time field associates in its US-based stores. As of March 2019, employees in this capacity receive $14.26 on average.
The company has sought to increase additional benefits and compensation as well, leading to an average value of $19.31 per hour for hourly field employees in Walmart’s US stores, once all these elements have been factored in.
At management level, Walmart’s US-based store managers earn an average of $175,000, far in advance of the average retail store manager salary in the USA, as of October 2020.
- Gender representation
Walmart aims to increase the number of female team members on its staff. The figure currently stands at 55% of the total workforce. More tellingly, as of February 2019, Walmart’s board included three women out of a total of 12 board members.
It is important that Walmart be able to continue providing equal opportunities for employees of all gender identities at all levels. The 55% figure is encouraging, and the fact that there is a 25% representation of women at executive level is another positive step, although there is more work to be done here.
At other levels, women make up:
- 43% in management positions in US stores
- 32% of US corporate officers
- 57% of US hourly promotions
- Minority representation
Minority representation within the workforce is a big part of Walmart’s corporate social responsibility efforts. At the time of publication — back in 2019 — around 44% of Walmart’s US-based workforce was made up of people of color.
Again, this is encouraging and is a testament to the effects of a good corporate responsibility policy. However, it is important to look at the company’s top level also. The board of directors at Walmart includes two members from “racially or ethnically diverse backgrounds,” out of 12 members in total.
At other levels, people of color make up:
- 33% in management positions in US stores
- 21% of US corporate officers
- 45% of US hourly promotions
- Staff development and mobility
Walmart is investing heavily in the development of its staff, leaving the way clear for people of all backgrounds to ascend through the ranks within the organization.
The latest report states that 75% of the current store management team in the US consists of workers who began their Walmart careers on an hourly wage.
- Supply chain and sourcing
Walmart has pledged to develop and oversee responsible supply chain and sourcing activities right across the world. This involves performing risk assessments on supply chains and sourcing locations, before focusing auditing activities on areas deemed most at risk.
In the 2019 financial year, Walmart’s suppliers disclosed more than 25,800 facilities to Walmart, ready for auditing and inspection as scheduled.
The company is also working to implement worker safety programs at facilities worldwide, including a 24-hour confidential helpline to keep all of those who work under the Walmart umbrella safe from harm.
Within the US, Walmart and Sam’s Clubs are carrying out responsible sourcing initiatives via the domestic market. Between them, the two arms of the organization sourced more than $11 billion worth of goods from diverse suppliers and almost $30 billion worth of goods from female-owned businesses in the past seven years.
- Food safety
Aside from their role as employers and partners, Walmart is also a provider of food and beverage consumables to customers worldwide. This is important to remember while examining the company’s corporate social responsibility policies — the company has a responsibility to its customers, too.
To achieve this, Walmart has become heavily involved with food safety, conducting more than 140,000 independent audits at stores and outlets. Walmart was one of the founding members of the Global Food Safety Initiative, and today works with over 4,990 food facilities who are also members of this initiative.
Additionally, Walmart is using technology to ensure food safety. Since September 2018, suppliers of leafy green vegetables have been required to deploy a blockchain-based system that secures end-to-end traceability for all products in this category.
Walmart became the first US retailer to apply a timescale to its chemical footprint and wastage reduction goals, actively working to reduce the volume of harmful chemicals handled by the company — chemicals that could cause environmental disaster if not managed in the right way.
The company also offers Walmart Events four times a year, during which health screenings are provided to those in need across the US. Around 3.3 million screenings had been supplied by 2019.
The Next Steps for Walmart’s Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts
Alongside the results discussed above, Walmart published a range of different goals it expects to hit in the coming year. These include:
- Influence global retail supply chains to adopt responsible recruitment practices by 2026
- Investment of $25 million in the advancement of food safety in China by the end of 2021
- 10% reduction of overall chemical footprint in the personal care, beauty, baby, pet, and household product categories by 2022
- Train millions of Walmart associates via programs focused on supporting long-term career growth — training to be widespread by 2025
Positive Moves from Walmart
Major international corporations such as Walmart often find themselves criticized on the grounds of social responsibility. However, while these sprawling organizations can certainly do harm to communities and societies, they also represent a great opportunity to do right. What is needed is a sincere approach, the right management, and the proper use of resources.
With Walmart’s corporate responsibility efforts, we are certainly seeing the global mega-brand taking steps in the right direction. Let’s hope these steps can continue in a meaningful way.