Walmart Inc. is a multinational retail corporation whose umbrella is a chain of classic hypermarkets, departmental, and grocery stores. The retail giant was established in 1962 and has grown to become the largest retailer globally. It serves over 260 million customers across the world in its 11,500 chain stores supplemented by 158 distribution centers (Frank & David, 2018). The vastness of the company with its presence in all markets around the world is reflected in the company’s revenue generation. The company offered employment to over 2.2 million associates globally. In the U.S., the company employs 1.5 million people, making it one of the biggest employers in the country (Frank & David, 2018). Although the success of the company is attributed to effective strategies in markets, its foundational values, and its ability to respond to the ever-changing market demands, relationship with stakeholders are key to the company’s resilience.
Walmart was founded by Sam Walton born in 1918, in Oklahoma. Walton’s first job was that of a sales trainee at a retail store. He, later on, joined the U.S. Army bringing his retail career to a stop. Upon return, he purchased the first store franchised under Ben Franklin in Arkansas, with money he loaned from his father-in-law ($20,000) in addition to his $ 50000 savings. Sam Walton abandoned the franchise due to poor management and opted for a brand new line of retail stores but with a focus on untapped markets. Despite the presence of established brands in the markets, including Seers and Kmart, Walmart grew rapidly by focusing on rural markets and operating discount stores (Frank & David, 2018). By opening up stores in small towns and rural areas the retailer grew faster as it leveraged the higher sales volumes at affordable prices. The presence of Walmart in small towns meant that families were able to save a lot of money that could have been spent on similar products offered by competitors. Families in rural areas and small towns developed loyalty to the retailer as it offered them value and created employment opportunities for them (Frank & David, 2018). This made it difficult for established competitors to perform in the smaller towns giving Walmart a basis to expand and by 1991 the company went international.
As a company that values its stakeholders including consumers, the company has continued to operate ethically and support the community to achieve sustainability. As such, Walmart institutionalized its Codes of ethics within its structures as part of the ethical system to guide the company’s direction in its operations (Al Ghamdi & Dalain, 2018). To ensure compliance and facilitate evaluation and performance of the ethical system, the company formed its Global Ethics office. In addition to that, the Company has an Ethical Standards Team put in place to monitor external compliance from suppliers (Walmart, n.d.). According to Walmart “Ethics and compliance are integral to a well-functioning society and the economy…” (Walmart, 2021). From the company’s mission statement “to save people money so they can live better,” it can be deduced that the company is driven by ethical motives and not necessarily by profit. This is further reflected in the company’s quest to build trust and integrity in business dealings by putting in place the highest standards of ethics and compliance.
As per the established code of ethics the company has been exemplary in its corporate social responsibility (CSR). A majority of the company’s employees cite being treated fairly by their employer (Sainato, 2021). This is a shift from earlier lamentations concerning low wages and access issues and an indication of ethical practices towards its employees. Apart from ethical practices toward employees, Walmart continues to have a positive impact on the community by helping vulnerable members and offering assistance during emergencies. For instance, the company contributed $18 million and 2,450 truckloads of supplies for hurricane victims of Katrina and Rita (Walmart, 2015). Through the application of codes of ethics and showing support to the community through CSR activities, the company builds trust, an intangible tool that is essential for business sustainability in the modern business environment.
Al Ghamdi, A. K., & Dalain, A. F. (2018). Research article ethical trading in corporate social responsibility: A case of Walmart, Apple and Canon. Asian Journal of Business Management, 10(1), 1-10. Web.
Frank., T & David K. (2018). Walton, S. History of Walmart. Web.
Sainato, M. (2021) You can’t pay bills on $ 12 an hour: Walmart employees left out of raises. The Guardian. Web.
Walmart (2021). Ethics and Compliance. Web.
Walmart (n.d.) Integrity builds trust. Web.
Walmart (2015). Walmart and the Walmart Foundation Mark 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with $25 Million Commitment to Support Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Efforts Worldwide. Web.