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Using our strengths to help others

Walmart provides food, apparel and household products to hundreds of millions of customers in 28 countries around the world. We are committed to doing so in a way that creates economic opportunity for associates, suppliers and others in retail supply chains; enhances the environmental and social sustainability of supply chains; and strengthens the communities where we live and work. 

For 10 years, we have been leading initiatives with our stakeholders in these arenas of opportunity, sustainability and community. We aspire to use our strengths to help others while also strengthening our business, and vice versa – reshaping the systems we all rely on to help improve social, environmental and economic outcomes.

This introduction covers:

  • Our approach to global responsibility: Shared value
  • Stakeholder perspectives on societal issues, relevance for business, and how Walmart can help
  • Walmart’s social and environmental priorities and programs
  • Performance highlights for the year

The rest of the report describes our priorities and programs in more detail, including aspirations for system change and the impact we seek in business and society; indicators of progress; some recent stories of impact; and also some of the challenges we face as we go about this work.

Our approach to global responsibility: Shared value

For Walmart, unlocking the full potential of our business means that we use our strengths to support and improve the social and environmental systems upon which we all rely. We do this in six key ways:

Whole-system change. Working with others, we aspire to reshape whole systems to achieve significant and lasting improvement in social, environmental and economic outcomes. For example, enhancing environmental sustainability in retail supply chains means addressing their social and economic dimensions, too. We have placed, and will continue to place, increasing emphasis on social issues such as empowering women and supporting worker safety and dignity.

Create shared value for business and society. We seek to create value for stakeholders across business and society, because shared value enhances the quality and viability of solutions. We believe that our social and environmental programs are of interest to long-term shareholders because they strengthen the systems
we rely on as a retailer.

Lead through the business. We work to integrate our social and environmental priorities into our routine business activities (such as merchandising, sourcing, store operations, logistics, human resources and technology), through leadership practices, organizational roles, operational processes and tools.

Focus on actions that draw on Walmart’s particular strengths. We can make the most significant difference when we draw on our particular strengths as a retailer. These strengths include our 2.3 million associates globally, supplier relationships, purchasing in categories like food and apparel, physical assets and capabilities in logistics, marketing, operations and merchandising. 

Use philanthropy to complement business initiatives. We complement and extend the impact of Walmart’s social and environmental initiatives through philanthropic efforts. Through both in-kind and cash gifts, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation give over $1 billion annually to projects that create opportunity, enhance sustainability and strengthen community. 

Collaborate with others. Since we believe that collective action is essential to the transformation of systems, we shape our programs in collaboration with other leaders and stakeholders. We are also investing in enhancing the effectiveness and ease of dialogue and action across sectors through support for organizations and tools, such as the Consumer Good Forum and the Sustainability Index.At Walmart, we continually engage stakeholders to understand their perspectives, improve the effectiveness and relevance of our initiatives, increase transparency and trust and collaborate on addressing business and societal challenges. 

Stakeholder perspectives

At Walmart, we continually engage stakeholders to understand their perspectives, improve the effectiveness and relevance of our initiatives, increase transparency and trust and collaborate on addressing business and societal challenges. 

Over the past year, to sharpen our social and environmental priorities, programs and reporting, we heavily engaged our stakeholders – customers, associates, suppliers, advisory councils, community leaders, grantees, other NGOs, government leaders and investors – in dialogues, working sessions and surveys about their perspectives on Walmart’s role in society. These included interviews and a 1,750-respondent survey conducted by Sustainalytics. The Sustainable Development Goals recently released by the United Nations also informed our discussions.  

Although stakeholder perspectives varied in emphasis, there were consistent themes: While people acknowledge we live in a time of unprecedented global prosperity (in part due to retail and technological innovation, among many other factors), we also face unprecedented social and environmental challenges in meeting the needs of a growing world population.  

Stakeholders reinforced their expectation that Walmart – as a leading retailer – should use its strengths in collaboration with others to help reshape social and environmental systems for the benefit of society as well as business. 

The accompanying exhibit summarizes stakeholder perspectives on societal challenges, the relevance they see for businesses like Walmart and how they suggest Walmart can help.

Priorities, programs and initiatives

Performance highlights for the year

Opportunity: Enhancing economic opportunity
As a large global retailer, Walmart is working with others to use our strengths – our jobs, our purchase orders, our company voice, the convening power of our brand and our philanthropic investments to create a more inclusive economic system that increases workforce mobility and economic growth in countries around the world. We have two main programs:

  • Economic mobility.

    We aim to enhance economic mobility and inclusion of associates, retail and adjacent sector workers beyond Walmart, and workers in supply chains. Key initiatives include Associate Opportunity, Retail Opportunity, Women’s Economic Empowerment
    and U.S. Veterans.

  • Business development. We aim to promote inclusive development of suppliers and other businesses, through initiatives such as Women’s Economic Empowerment, Supplier Diversity, Local Manufacturing and Small Business. 

Sustainability: Enhancing sustainability of global supply chains
Walmart collaborates with suppliers, customers, nonprofit organizations and others to enhance the environmental and social sustainability of global supply chains. We are bringing our relevant strengths to bear, including customer and supplier relationships, purchase orders, philanthropy, our voice, physical assets and capabilities in sourcing, logistics, technology, operations and marketing, to name a few, to reshape systems for the better. We have six main programs:

  • Energy and emissions.

    We aim to reduce the energy intensity and emissions in our operations and work with others to reduce emissions across supply chains. Key initiatives include Walmart Energy Efficiency/Renewables and Supply Chain Emissions Reduction.

  • Zero waste.

    We aim to eliminate waste in our own operations as well as support waste reduction initiatives in the supply chain. Key initiatives include Waste Reduction (food and other materials streams, in and through Walmart operations), Product Design/Packaging and Recycling Education/Infrastructure. 

  • Natural resources.

    We aim to preserve natural resources that are vulnerable to global consumption growth through collective action in Deforestation (focusing on palm oil, soy, beef and paper), Water and Land Conservation. 

  • Sustainable food system.

    We aim to help the world feed a growing population by creating a more accessible, affordable, sustainable and healthy food system. Key initiatives include Food Access, Hunger Relief, Nutrition, Food Waste Reduction and Sustainable Food Production. 

  • Transparency and quality.

    We aim to promote transparency and quality in products we sell, through initiatives in Food/Product Safety, Sustainable Chemistry and Animal Welfare.

  • Worker dignity. We aim to support the safety and dignity of workers in supply chains, through Responsible Sourcing and Compliance initiatives. 
Community: Strengthening local communities

We use our strengths to serve local communities in ways that go beyond our retail mission, in the face of disaster as well as day to day through the engagement of our 2.3 million associates in 10,000 communities worldwide. Key programs include:

  • Disaster response and preparedness.

    We aim to enhance disaster resilience through initiatives that enhance the speed and focus of disaster response as well as increase community disaster preparedness. 

  • Community development. We aim to enhance the quality of life in communities through initiatives in Associate Engagement (in giving and volunteerism), Community Investment and Associate Support (through support for scholarships and crisis funds).