Stakeholder Engagement

ESG Approach - Stakeholder Engagement

Our ability to create shared value depends on direct and frequent engagement with our customers, associates and community leaders, as well as the people who supply our products, hold our stock and evaluate our performance. Stakeholder perspectives and feedback help improve the relevance and effectiveness of the products and services we offer and the initiatives we support. Read more: Our ESG Priorities.

Our 2021 ESG priority assessment included extensive outreach to stakeholders, including customers, associates, shareholders, suppliers and NGOs, to understand their perspectives on which issues Walmart should prioritize.

Below we have outlined some of the ways we engage day-to-day with our stakeholders.


Understanding the needs of our customers is a top priority. We use a variety of channels to solicit feedback and communicate with our customers. These include:

  • Focused research through surveys, web/app feedback and in-person discussions
  • Social media engagement through managed Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram pages
  • In-person communication in our stores
  • Outreach through email and phone, including communication through our customer call centers

Our customers’ feedback regarding ESG issues largely tracks that of the communities in which they live. For example, Walmart U.S. customers told us their priorities include health care, jobs, climate change and economic equality, and they look to Walmart to lead on associate training, investments in wages, efforts to combat climate change, racial equity/inclusion and affordable healthcare.


One of Sam Walton’s rules for building a business was "listen to everyone in your company." Associate engagement has been foundational to our company’s success, and associate feedback – anonymous and attributed, direct and indirect – continues to create a culture of trust, transparency and engagement. Associates have many avenues to share ideas, suggestions and concerns, including several opportunities to provide feedback anonymously:

  • In-person dialogue, including formal one-on one listening sessions
  • Team meetings
  • Leadership facility visits
  • Facebook Workplace and other social media
  • Email
  • Formal periodic Associate Engagement Surveys
  • Engagement Pulse Surveys
  • Confidential resources including our Open Door process and Ethics channels

Associate feedback is followed up on in several ways. For example, Engagement Pulse Survey results are provided to regional and divisional leaders and their People team partners, allowing leaders to track progress against goals and action plans and adjust priorities as needed. And Associate Engagement Survey results dashboards are distributed to facility managers, highlighting key areas of opportunity and suggesting action plans to create a more engaged workforce.

Associate feedback shapes Walmart’s business decisions, including our associate proposition. For more information on how feedback has led to meaningful change, see our Human Capital: Good Jobs & Advancement for Associates.

Suppliers & People Who Work in Product Supply Chains

We wouldn’t have a business without suppliers and the people who help create the products and services we provide to our customers. Walmart business teams engage suppliers regularly to share our standards, expectations and specifications; develop new products, packaging, services and more effective business processes; receive their feedback on how we can collaborate and serve customers; help measure performance and improve capabilities; and co-design systems we use to manage supplier and item lifecycles. In addition to such day-to-day collaboration and the 100,000+ contacts we receive annually from suppliers through our call centers, we engage suppliers through specific forums, including:

  • Sustainability Milestone Summit: At this event, typically held annually, we bring our suppliers and nonprofits together to discuss sustainability. At the October 2022 summit, thousands joined us virtually and in-person, including Walmart leaders, associates, suppliers and NGO leaders to discuss how we're accelerating regeneration across our business. To learn more, please visit our Sustainability Hub.
  • Supplier Growth Forum: Walmart invites suppliers and sellers to this annual event, at which Walmart shares the company’s—and our merchandising team's—strategic initiatives, key areas of focus and future growth strategies for the year ahead. In 2023, we welcomed more than 2,000 supplier and seller representatives in person and online. Suppliers and sellers were provided opportunities before, throughout and after the event to ask Walmart leaders questions or to share their feedback on the messages they're hearing.
  • Joint Sustainability Planning: Walmart invites sustainability and business leaders from strategic suppliers to engage in joint sustainability planning sessions where we share experiences, ambitions and feedback with the goal of advancing sustainability initiatives together (e.g., Project Gigaton, packaging, and place-based initiatives). These connections continue throughout the year.
  • Commodity Summits: We host summits on commodities relevant to nature during which our merchants, suppliers, and stakeholders discuss sourcing strategies, aspirations, achievements, and challenges. These summits offer a chance to discuss necessary behavioral shifts, surface innovative and promising practices, and highlight resources to help drive action. Since 2020, we have held summits for tuna, beef and row crops (e.g., corn, cotton). We also held a Sustainable Packaging Innovation Summit in 2021 which has implications for our commodity sourcing (e.g., pulp/paper). In 2023 we are planning additional summits focused on oceans, forests, and packaging.
  • Pre-Initiative Engagement: We meet with relevant suppliers before launching new sustainability initiatives to get their feedback and insights and seek out their collaboration. For example, before launching our pollinator commitments, we met with produce suppliers to understand what steps they were taking already and how a potential change in approach would impact their business. We also met with chemicals suppliers to share our point of view and to hear theirs.
ESG Approach - Pre-initiative Engagement.

We also seek opportunities to elevate the perspectives of people working in product supply chains to help enhance the relevance and effectiveness of our sustainable supply chain initiatives. Walmart has several mechanisms for workers (and anyone with relevant information) to raise concerns directly to Walmart. For example, we provide a 24/7 global helpline that is available in 29 languages. This is in addition to the globally accessible email (ethics@walmart.com) and website (walmartethics.com). We provide posters to suppliers to place in their facilities in the local language detailing how workers can use these mechanisms.

If we receive information alleging serious violations of our Standards by a supplier or its facilities, we open a case. Our case management and escalation criteria are informed by the International Labour Organization Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. In FY2023, we opened over 800 cases related to more serious allegations of non-compliances with our Standards for Suppliers. While cases are opened based on higher-risk audit findings, nearly 50% of cases arise from sources other than the audit process, indicating functioning worker voice systems.

In addition to the formal mechanisms we have in place, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation also support studies and analyses that aim to improve understanding of the nature and prevalence of human rights issues in supply chains from workers' point of view. Examples include funding IJM to conduct a study on migrant labor in Thai seafood industry; an IOM study on migrant labor in Thailand and Malaysia; and a Wilson Center study on wages, working conditions, and recruitment in North America. Additionally, grantees participating in the Walmart.org Market Access program generated insights into the experiences of smallholders in Central America, India, and Mexico, which Walmart.org collected and published.

Read more: People in Supply Chains, Regeneration of Natural Resources and the Human Rights


With approximately 10,500 stores and other physical locations backed by a strong online presence, Walmart is an important part of many communities. We are focused on earning the trust of our stakeholders and strengthening the communities in which we live and work. We engage with and listen to communities in several ways including:

  • Government and Community Relations: Our State and Local Government Relations and Community Relations teams are deployed geographically throughout the United States and—partnering with our operators in those communities—are responsible for interacting with state and local government leaders, community leaders and local organizations to help ensure our business meets community needs. Typical issues discussed include store siting and remodeling plans, disaster preparedness and response, legislative issues and community engagement.
  • Disaster Response: Walmart's Emergency Operation Center (EOC) team members are often deployed to local and state EOC locations when disasters strike. The team embeds onsite with local emergency managers, government responders, and other organizations to facilitate communication between the Walmart EOC and local entities on the latest forecast and event impact information, coordination of response and recovery efforts, priorities, and support needs.
  • Community Champions: Since 2020, more than 1,000 Walmart U.S. stores have appointed Community Champions to improve engagement between the store and the community. With the help of our Community Relations team, store leaders build relationships with local government officials, nonprofits and civic partners to understand and address the unique profile of their communities.
  • Community Input on Giving: We aim to make our giving programs collaborative and community-informed. We solicit input on our Walmart.org grant applications and by participating in the Center for Effective Philanthropy survey to get anonymous feedback from grantees on our performance.
  • Constituent Relations: The team facilitates the company’s collaboration with organizations close to underrepresented and underserved communities on issues of mutual concern. For example, we host and support stakeholder summits and events that bring Walmart together with partner organizations representing different constituent groups, including the National Urban League, National Congress of American Indians, The Association of University Centers on Disabilities, International Women’s Forum, AAPI, National Museum of the American Latino and LGBTQ+ Victory Institute. To further foster engagement and gain a deeper understanding of the concerns of these groups, we conduct annual partners meetings and roundtables where members of underrepresented communities can share their perspectives and priorities with Walmart.

Read more: Engagement in Public Policy, Serving Communities, Disaster Preparedness & Response and Equity & Inclusion at Walmart & Beyond


Our shareholders include large asset managers, other institutional investors, individual retail investors, and our own associates (in 2023, 40% of our active full-time and salaried U.S. associates participated in at least one of Walmart’s stock ownership programs, including equity awards and our Associate Stock Purchase Plan).

We engage with shareholders on ESG issues in several ways, including:

  • Formal communications: Quarterly and annual earnings materials, Forms 10-Q, Forms 10-K and annual reports, proxy statements, ESG reporting and news releases.
  • Live events: We engage with shareholders during our annual and quarterly earnings release calls, investment community meetings, participation in investor conferences, our annual shareholders’ meeting, and ESG-focused webinars. These typically involve question-and-answer sessions.
  • Shareholder outreach programs: Board members, senior leaders, and/or subject matter experts actively solicit feedback from our shareholders on strategy, governance, compensation, ESG, and other topics. Since our 2022 Annual Shareholders' Meeting, we have engaged with 35 institutional shareholders, including many of our largest investors, and ultimately engaged with shareholders representing ~550 million shares or about 39% of our public float.
  • One-on-one engagement: Discussions with individual shareholders through our 2022-2023 annual shareholder engagement program and on-request engagements.

The ESG team also regularly engages with ESG analysts and researchers that prepare ratings shareholders and others use to assess Walmart’s ESG performance. These specialists offer diverse perspectives that inform our initiatives. In these communications, we discuss Walmart’s strategy, governance practices, compliance programs and other ESG-related matters.
Read more: Corporate Governance.

Stakeholder ESG Priorities
  • Opportunity: Associate wages, benefits, upskilling and mobility, economic inequality, racial equity, veteran hiring, and local manufacturing 
  • Sustainability: Climate change, plastic waste 
  • Community: Access to healthy food, access to affordable health care, associate and customer safety disaster relief, hunger relief, convenient shopping options and experiences, affordability of food, consumables, general merchandise and services
  • Opportunity: Job stability and mobility, including wages, benefits, scheduling, training and promotions, inclusive workplace and teamwork 
  • Sustainability: Climate change 
  • Community: Local giving, hunger and disaster relief 
  • Ethics & Integrity: Workplace safety and good working environment
  • Opportunity: All topics relating to Walmart as an employer, supplier opportunity 
  • Sustainability: Waste, nature, climate change, supply chain transparency 
  • Community: Community engagement, access to food, products and services 
  • Ethics & Integrity: Marketplace oversight and responsibility, data security and cybersecurity, consumer protection, human rights, ethics, integrity and compliance 
  • Opportunity: Diversity, equity and inclusion, associate wages, upskilling and mobility 
  • Sustainability: Climate change, waste, sustainable products and supply chains 
  • Community: Access to affordable food, products and healthcare, shopping, safety, disaster response 
  • Ethics & Integrity: Associate and customer safety, human rights, food and product safety, data security and cybersecurity, taxes and economic contribution
  • Opportunity: All topics relating to Walmart as an employer 
  • Sustainability: Climate change, product availability and supply chain resiliency 
  • Community: Food and product access, customer and community safety 
  • Ethics & Integrity: Policy and advocacy, human rights, consumer protection, corporate governance, data security and cybersecurity 
Civil Society (NGOs, advisory councils & grantees) Topics differed by group, but generally our civil society stakeholders prioritized:
  • Opportunity: employee pay and benefits, engagement, safety, upskilling and mobility, diversity equity inclusion 
  • Sustainability: Climate change, nature, waste 
  • Community: Food and product access, community engagement 
  • Ethics & Integrity: Ethics, integrity and compliance, human rights, food safety, policy and advocacy, supply chain compliance