Wal-Mart has long been the poster company for poor business practices.
In the US, the influential television station, Public Broadcast System (PBS) ran two programs in 2001 and 2004:
These were very comprehensive programs with supporting resources. They chronicled all that was bad with Wal-Mart.
The BBC also broadcast a number of stories about the company.
If you Google “YouTube Walmart” you get results such as:
- Wal-Mart Throws Out Santa Claus
- Wal-Mart Shenanigans!
- Confessions of a Wal-Mart Hit Man
- Wal-Mart bashes unions
Well, you get the point. Bashing Wal-Mart turned into a great sport. Then something happened — Wal-Mart started to rebuild its reputation.
- They told their suppliers in China to improve their social and sustainability standards
- In April 2009, they held a unprecedented 2 day conference for members of the media
- They announced plans to revise pay and promotion programs
- And they stepped up community donations to $423 million in the year ended February 1, 2009.
The results have not received much attention but Wal-Mart reputation ratings started to improve. Wal-Mart’s ratings on the two most prominent Reputation Indices indicate:
- on April 29, 2009 the Reputation Institute announced that “… Wal-Mart saw the largest gains in reputation, improving their Reputation Pulse scores by more than 12 points from 2008 to 2009.”
- also in April 2009, Harris Interactive (PDF) announced “The only company with greater improvement in its actual RQ score was Wal-Mart, whose score increased by almost 5 points.”
Not only is Wal-Mart improving overall reputation but it is being recognized for ethical practices. Note this remarkable chart from Covalence which tracks the ethical reputation of multinationals by sourcing information from the media, civil society, and companies.
Wal-Mart was still last in Covalence EthicalQuote ranking calculated for 27 companies in the Retail industry. Today it has jumped up to the third rank, behind Marks & Spencer and Home Depot, showing the best progression over the last year, while PPR, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and TJX are last. The US retailer is also climbing high in Covalence cross sectors ranking.
Wal-Mart may have been vilified in the past, but now they are getting some well deserved recognition.
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