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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Corporate Social Responsibility at Walmart

Is it not an outright oxymoron for a company such as Walmart to pinch pennies when it comes to its non-supervisory employees even as it is oriented to the social good of society through its "corporate social responsibility" (CSR) programs? Leslie Dach, a former executive at Walmart who had been behind several such initiatives liked to make the point that striving to make a dent in societal problems can dovetail with a company’s own financial interests. The two need not conflict. I submit that this is not good enough for a company's management authentically into "giving something back." Specifically, the social-good initiatives should be integrated with company operations. Walmart can indeed be criticized from this standpoint, particular since Sam Walton's sons cut non-supervisory employee sickness and vacation days. I suspect that the illusion foisted on the general public is likely to burst one day as the bones of the stores' operations are laid bare (i.e., the curtain is pulled back to reveal for the public the proverbial man behind the curtain). Let's hope that other companies can learn from, and thus improve on Walmart's dual strategies.