A message from our Chief Executive Officer
Why are we doing this?
Why are we launching big efforts like Project GigatonTM? Why did we set ambitious goals such as creating zero waste and using 100% renewable energy? Why, as a retailer, have a position on human rights? Why issue an Environmental, Social and Governance report every year to track progress?
Well, as with many things at Walmart, the WHY of it starts with our founder, Sam Walton.
Twenty-seven years ago, President George H.W. Bush traveled to Bentonville to present Sam with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It was a pinnacle moment for Walmart, and our founder shared a few powerful and timeless thoughts. He provided a forward-looking purpose for our company that drives us today:
“If we can, why, we’ll lower the cost of living for everyone—not just in America, but we’ll give the world an opportunity to see what it’s like to save and have a better lifestyle and a better life for all.”
Sam said “and.” Our purpose is to help give people all over the world the opportunity to save “… AND have a better lifestyle AND a better life for all.” Some have described Sam as a merchant with a servant’s heart. During his life, he gave back to the communities where we had stores and, as the scale of the company has grown, our desire to strengthen communities and make a difference in the world continues on.
Sam made those comments in 1992. In 2005, our President and CEO Lee Scott painted a vision of “21st Century Leadership” and challenged us to expand our thinking and impact. He said, “For us there is no distinction between being a responsible citizen and a successful business. They are one and the same for Walmart.”
What Sam and Lee said applies now more than ever. We believe it’s important to run our business in a way that generates lasting value for our customers, our associates, our shareholders and for society more broadly.
To many of us today, trust seems in short supply. Institutions, including business, especially big business, are being questioned. We see it in the headlines. We hear it in our stores. We think that people want to trust again but, of course, trust has to be earned. People want to see companies doing good in the world, and people want to work for companies they believe in. Business should serve more than just one stakeholder group. It’s not enough to just serve shareholders or just serve customers; rather, the opportunity for businesses and their leadership is to add value for all stakeholders. We’ve felt that way for a long time and we’ve been taking action, but we’re challenging ourselves to make even better choices and do more.
We’re investing in our associates through wages along with better educational opportunities, benefits and training. For example, since the first U.S. Walmart Academy opened in 2016, more than 800,000 associates have gone through training. And we expanded our parental-leave and adoption policies and raised starting wages again. As of last year, a fulltime hourly associate in the U.S. who gives birth to a child is eligible for up to 16 weeks of paid time away.
We’re launching new efforts to be more sustainable. Earlier this year, we announced a plan to reduce plastic waste in the packaging for our private brands. By 2025, we aim to use 100% recyclable, reusable, or industrially compostable packaging for our private brands in the U.S.
We’re continuing our fight against hunger. Four years ago, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation committed to providing 4 billion meals through funding and food donations by 2020. We are ahead of schedule.
And we’re working to source responsibly and improve supply chain conditions. For example, we’re proud to be a founding member in 2013 of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which concluded its commitment last year. Over the past five years, 90% of high-priority remediation items were complete across all factories affiliated with the Alliance and almost 1.6 million workers have been trained in fire safety. We continue to collaborate with stakeholders to improve the lives of workers in the global supply chain.
In the end, we all must answer one simple question: What valuable purpose did we serve? Either as an individual or as a company, which is simply a collection of individuals, what good did we do for the world?
Walmart is nearing the end of its sixth decade. We’ve been around a while, and with longevity comes a perspective and vision beyond next week. We’re in it for the long haul. And we understand that for a business to last, it must have a fundamental reason for being, which is found in the value it creates for all – customers, associates, communities, shareholders, suppliers, future generations … and the planet.
Remember, Sam said “and.” This is the And.
President and Chief Executive Officer