A message from our Chief Sustainability Officer
As we go to press with our 2020 ESG Report, the world is grappling with COVID-19. Because FY2020 ended about six weeks before the disease was declared a global pandemic, it does not appear in this report — yet the pandemic as well as the sharpening focus on racial inequity in the wake of George Floyd’s death underscores the need for collective, transformative action on the world’s most pressing social and environmental issues.
Walmart takes a shared value, whole-system approach to ESG. Our ESG initiatives aim to go beyond mitigating business risk. We aim to create value for stakeholders by addressing societal issues through business. We also seek, in collaboration with others, to transform underlying systems (such as retail workforce development and food industry supply chains) for long‑term social, environmental and economic sustainability.
To help investors and other stakeholders separate signal from noise in assessing good ESG practices, we have attempted to describe our aspirations, strategies, practices, challenges and key progress indicators for relevant ESG issues. In the interest of keeping this report to a reasonable length, we provide links to additional material posted elsewhere on selected topics.
FY2020 ESG highlights included:
Retail Opportunity. FY2020 marked the fifth year of our efforts to strengthen workforce development practices that advance stability and mobility of people in frontline retail jobs. Over this time period, Walmart strengthened career paths for our own associates, raised starting wages more than 50%, expanded benefits, launched the Walmart Academy (which has conducted more than 1.8 million associate trainings since 2016), and launched Live Better U — a pathway to earn a college degree for $1 a day — with correlating positive results for associates and our business performance. In parallel, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation invested more than $130 million in Retail Opportunity grants, including funding to establish a community of more than 50 nonprofit organizations to share learnings and insight on their respective efforts to make the case for investing in frontline workforce, develop and pilot new approaches to training and advancement of incumbent workers, and engage employers and others in frontline workforce development.
Climate. Walmart made CDP’s 2019 'A List' for climate action. We continue our efforts to make progress toward our science-based targets in our own operations (including sourcing an estimated 29% of our electricity needs from renewable energy) and our efforts to create a broad movement across the consumer sector. More than 2,300 suppliers have signed on to Project GigatonTM. Since 2017, suppliers have reported a cumulative 230 million metric tons (MMT) of avoided emissions.
Sustainable product supply chains. Walmart made progress across categories on sustainability initiatives related to climate, waste (including becoming a partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and launching our Sustainable Packaging Playbook), nature (advancing use of certifications and engaging in coalitions such as Business for Nature), human rights (for example, responsible recruitment efforts) and economic opportunity (for example, smallholder market access in India and Mexico).
Community cohesion. In addition to serving more than 265 million customers per week and providing jobs to more than 2.2 million people, we provided cash and in-kind donations of more than $1.4 billion to projects that create opportunity, enhance sustainability and strengthen communities.
Throughout FY2020, Walmart associates were engaged with customers, suppliers, NGOs, government leaders and multilateral agencies in planning for what should have been a “super year” — and inflection point — a year we all hoped would accelerate progress on climate, nature, and equity.
While the pandemic may have delayed progress and, in some ways, compromised the world’s capacity for positive action, it has also prompted people everywhere to work in new ways and consider how small but universal changes in behavior can produce large-scale, positive effects. We are all invited to consider how we can bring new unity of purpose, innovation and collective action to global challenges — an inflection point, still.
We appreciate your collaboration in helping us meet the challenges of our time and your engagement in our business. As always, we welcome your feedback.
Chief Sustainability Officer