Creating shared value
Shared value—addressing societal issues in ways that create value for our business and stakeholders—lies at the heart of Walmart’s enterprise strategy and our approach to ESG issues.
We believe we maximize long-term value for shareholders by serving our stakeholders: delivering value to our customers, creating economic opportunity for associates and suppliers, strengthening local communities and enhancing the environmental and social sustainability of our business and product supply chains. Addressing such societal needs builds the value of our business by extending our social license to operate, building customer and associate trust, creating new revenue streams, managing cost and risk, building capabilities for future advantage and strengthening the underlying systems we all rely on. In other words, business exists to serve society: business strengthens society and at the same time serving society strengthens business. We aspire to become a regenerative company—helping to renew people and planet through our business.
* All figures are for FY2021 unless otherwise noted.
Our shared value approach is informed by five imperatives:
Focus on priority issues
Walmart prioritizes ESG issues based on relevance to our business, importance to our stakeholders and Walmart’s ability to effect change with respect to those issues. The priority ESG issues for Walmart include providing economic opportunity for our associates, advancing racial and gender equity in our business and society, accelerating progress on the environmental and social sustainability of retail and product supply chains (including issues related to climate, nature, waste, product safety and people working in supply chains), strengthening the resilience of local communities and upholding the highest standards of ethics and integrity throughout our business. Read more: Our ESG priorities.
Develop an ESG impact thesis
For each priority ESG issue, we set out to develop an ESG impact thesis that articulates the relevance of the issue for society and Walmart’s business, reflects an understanding of stakeholder expectations and defines our aspirations, goals and strategies. Through such disclosures, we aim to provide stakeholders with an understanding of Walmart’s shared value approach and progress.
For example, regarding climate change, Walmart has committed to science-based targets to reduce emissions in our own operations to zero by 2040— without any offsets— and to help draw down emissions in the retail and consumer goods sector overall through our advocacy and stakeholder engagement. We engage suppliers in initiatives related to energy, packaging, waste, product design, agriculture and forests. We collaborate with others to drive innovation in retail business practices and seek to accelerate systems change through strategic philanthropy. Through CDP and other ESG disclosures, we communicate our approach to climate risk assessment and governance, our climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, and results such as the company’s operational absolute and relative emissions over time, suppliers’ cumulative avoided emissions and their participation in company initiatives, and examples of innovations in retail product supply chains that help draw down emissions.
Lead through business
We seek to bring about positive change in society first and foremost by managing our business in a way that creates shared value. Our ESG aspirations and initiatives are embedded in how we do business — involving, for example, our enterprise strategy, annual planning, risk management and performance management processes; individual roles and responsibilities; operating policies and procedures; policy advocacy; systems and tools. For example, our Real Estate teams advance our renewable energy objectives. Our People teams and Operators shape our associate proposition, including upskilling and advancement strategies. Our Public Policy teams advocate on behalf of our customers and associates to shape effective policy regarding issues such as climate change, health and safety, marketplace trust and transparency, and privacy.
Collaborate to transform systems at scale
Walmart’s reach, relationships and capabilities enable us to help scale impact. Our teams collaborate with suppliers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies and others for collective action to transform systems on which society—including our business—relies: for example, accelerating the transition to renewable energy to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, helping change worker recruitment practices in southeast Asia to help eradicate forced labor, and encouraging innovations in workforce development to upskill and advance frontline workers in the retail and service sectors.
Use philanthropy to extend the societal impact of business initiatives
The transformation of complex systems requires collaboration among the public sector, private sector and civil society. Through philanthropy, we seek to complement and go beyond Walmart business initiatives in addressing important social and environmental challenges. In FY2021, through a combination of in-kind and cash gifts, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $1.4 billion to fund efforts aiming to create economic opportunity, advance racial and gender equity, enhance sustainability of product supply chains and strengthen communities, among other issues. For example, while the Walmart business can provide access to affordable, nutritious food through our stores and eCommerce, our philanthropy includes donations of unsold produce and investments to expand the cold chain capacity of the charitable meal system to provide nutritious food to the vulnerable.