- Board of Directors
- Corporate governance
- Management of ESG
- Ethics & compliance
- Health & safety
- Disaster response & resiliency
- Corporate citizenship
- Stakeholder engagement
Board of Directors
Effective corporate governance is essential for long-term value creation. Our values of respect for the individual, service, excellence and integrity provide the foundation for our approach to governance.
Our Board of Directors (“Board”) has adopted a set of Corporate Governance Guidelines , which serve as a flexible framework to assist the Board in the exercise of its responsibilities. These guidelines are reviewed at least annually and updated as appropriate in response to evolving best practices, regulatory requirements, feedback from our annual Board evaluations and recommendations made by our shareholders.
The members of our Board bring a variety of backgrounds, qualifications, skills and experiences that contribute to a well-rounded Board that we believe is uniquely positioned to effectively guide our strategy and oversee our operations in a rapidly evolving retail industry.
Diversity and inclusion are values embedded in our culture and fundamental to our business. We believe that a board comprised of directors with diverse backgrounds, experiences, perspectives and viewpoints improves the dialogue and decision-making in the boardroom and contributes to overall Board effectiveness. The Board is committed to diverse membership and assesses the effectiveness of its approach to Board diversity as part of the annual Board and Board committee evaluation process. As stated in our Corporate Governance Guidelines, it is the policy of the Board to include and to instruct search firms to include women and minority candidates among the pool of potential director candidates to be considered by the Nominating and Governance Committee (NGC).
For more information on our Board and other corporate governance topics, please visit our
Corporate Governance website
Relevant skills & experience
Our Directors possess a balance of distinguished leadership, diverse perspectives, strategic skill sets and professional experience relevant to our business and strategic objectives, including:
Our strong practices demonstrate our Board’s commitment to effective governance. For more information, please see the Corporate Governance section of our 2020 Annual Proxy Statement.
Board leadership & independence
The Board reviews its leadership structure annually and has designed it to promote robust oversight, independent viewpoints and the promotion of the overall effectiveness of the Board. Approximately 50% of our company’s shares are held by members of the family of Sam Walton, our company’s founder. Three generations of Walton family members have served on our Board, which demonstrates the Walton family’s interest in and commitment to the long-term success of our company. Despite their substantial ownership in the company, the members of the Walton family traditionally have held only three seats on our Board. While the NYSE Listed Company Rules provide exemptions from independence requirements for controlled companies, Walmart has not relied on and has no plans to rely on any of those governance exemptions because we believe it is important to have a majority independent board.
In addition, we have:
- Separated the Chair and CEO roles since 1988
- Had a Lead Independent Director role since 2004
Corporate governance practices
- Majority independent Board
- Lead Independent Director
- Governance committees are fully independent
Other Board and Board committee practices
- Separate Chair and CEO
- Risk oversight
- Oversight of political and social engagement
- Robust stock ownership guidelines
- No hedging and restrictions on pledge of Walmart stock
- No employment agreements with named executive officers described in our 2020 Annual Proxy Statement
- No change-in-control provisions
- Policy to include women and minorities among the pool of potential new Director candidates
- Board oversight of company strategy
- Robust Board evaluations
- Extensive shareholder engagement
- Commitment to Board refreshment and succession planning
- Focus on management development and succession planning
- Market standard proxy access right
- Shareholder right to call special meetings
- No poison pill
- No supermajority voting requirements
- Annual election of all Directors
- Majority voting for Director elections
To enhance the effectiveness of the Board’s risk oversight function and ensure appropriate focus on matters of strategic and governance importance, the Board regularly reviews its committee structure and committee responsibilities. Currently, the Board has six standing committees:
- Strategic Planning and Finance Committee
- Technology and eCommerce Committee
- Audit Committee
- Compensation and Management Development Committee
- Nominating and Governance Committee
- Executive Committee
Key Board responsibilities
The Board has oversight responsibility for our company’s business strategy and strategic planning. The Board’s oversight and our management’s execution of our business strategy are intended to help promote the creation of long-term stockholder and stakeholder value in a sustainable manner, with a focus on assessing potential opportunities and risks.
Board’s role in ESG-related issues
Management seeks to keep our Board updated on relevant ESG-related issues and initiatives. To that end, our Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and our Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) provide regular reports to the NGC on our ESG initiatives. In addition, Board oversight of related topics includes:
- Board oversight of culture and human capital management: Our human capital management and talent development efforts go well beyond the senior management level. We believe that retail can be a powerful engine for economic mobility, and we are committed to a respectful, rewarding, diverse and inclusive work environment that allows our associates to develop the skills they need for success. The Board and the Compensation and Management Development Committee provide oversight and guidance on workforce development; compensation; benefits; recruiting and retention; and culture, diversity and inclusion. We continue to invest in our associates’ wages and training, and we recently enhanced our leave and paid-time- off benefits. We believe that these actions have resulted in a more engaged and effective workforce that is better equipped to serve our customers in today’s rapidly changing retail environment.
- Board oversight of legislative affairs and public policy engagement: The NGC reviews and advises management regarding the company’s legislative affairs and public policy engagement strategy.
- Board oversight of charitable giving and sustainability: The NGC reviews and advises management regarding the company’s charitable giving strategy and other social, community and sustainability initiatives.
Board’s role in risk oversight
Walmart identifies, assesses and assigns responsibility for managing risks through its annual enterprise risk assessment process, other internal processes and internal control environment. The Board, Board committees and management coordinate risk oversight and management responsibilities in a manner that we believe serves the long-term interests of our company and our shareholders through established periodic reporting and open lines of communication.
Has primary responsibility for overseeing risk management:
Technology and eCommerce Committee
Compensation and Management Development Committee
Strategic Planning and Finance Committee
Nominating and Governance Committee
Integration of information technology, eCommerce and innovation efforts with overall strategy
Senior executive compensation
Senior executive development, succession planning and retention
Financial status and financial matters, including capital expenditures, annual financial plans and dividend policies
Director succession planning
Overall risk identification, monitoring and mitigation processes and policies
Emerging trends in technology and eCommerce
Human capital management, including pay, benefits, diversity and inclusion, recruiting and retention, and culture
Long-range strategic plans
Potential acquisitions and divestitures
Environmental, social, community and charitable giving initiatives
Legislative affairs and public policy engagement strategy
Financial statements, systems and reporting
Legal, ethics and compliance
Information systems, information security, data privacy and security, and cybersecurity
Related person transactions
Internal investigatory matters
Management is responsible for the enterprise risk assessment process and the day-to-day management of risks. Management considers risks in categories that include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Strategic risk
- Reputational risk
- Financial risk
- Legal, regulatory and compliance risk
- Operational risk, including information systems, information security, data privacy and security, cybersecurity and supply chain
Strategic and Operational Management Committees
Legal, Regulatory and Compliance
Risk Management Committees
Financial Risk Management Committees
Enterprise Risk Management
Global Audit Services
Our executive compensation programs are intended to motivate and retain key executives, with the ultimate goal of generating strong operating results and creating alignment with our shareholders. We have developed our compensation programs to support our enterprise strategy and to align our leadership team with our culture, strategy and structure. Our compensation program is also designed to balance long-term performance with shorter-term performance, and to mitigate any risk that an executive officer would be incentivized to pursue good results with respect to a single performance measure, company segment or area of responsibility to the detriment of our company as a whole.
The Compensation and Management Development Committee regularly reviews our executive compensation program to ensure that compensation is closely tied to aspects of our company’s performance that our executive officers can impact and that are likely to have an impact on shareholder value.
See the Exective Compensation section of our 2020 Annual Proxy Statement for more information.
Global compensation framework
Our executive compensation program is built upon our global compensation framework:
- Pay for performance by tying a majority of executive compensation to pre-established, quantifiable performance goals
- Use performance metrics that are understandable, that are tied to key retail performance indicators and that our executives have the ability to impact
- Provide competitive pay to attract and retain highly qualified talent at all levels
- Align management interests with the long-term interests of our shareholders by providing long-term incentives in the form of equity, combined with robust stock ownership guidelines
- Establish performance goals that are aligned with our strategic, financial and operating plans
- Encourage leadership accountability by tying a higher percentage of compensation to performance at higher levels of seniority
Management of ESG
Leadership of ESG issues starts with our CEO and cascades across our enterprise. Walmart business leaders shape and deliver ESG strategies relevant for their segments and functions; for example, the real estate team leads renewable energy initiatives.
Walmart’s CSO helps define the ESG agenda and provides daily management and oversight of Walmart’s publicly stated global ESG initiatives and goals. The CSO reports to our Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and provides updates to the Nominating and Governance Committee of the Walmart Board.
The CSO also chairs a cross-functional ESG Steering Committee, which is a management committee that meets at least biannually and is composed of leaders from various departments throughout the business, including the Office of the Corporate Secretary and the Controller’s Office. The ESG Steering Committee stays informed of relevant projects and efforts and works to ensure enterprise-wide alignment on ESG management strategies and priority business initiatives.
Additional management committees that support the ESG Steering Committee include:
- ESG Working Group: Managed by the Senior Director of ESG Trust and Transparency, the Working Group keeps the Steering Committee informed of stakeholder priorities as well as relevant ESG issues and management strategies.
- ESG Disclosure Committee: This Committee advises on processes and procedures for preparing and also reviews Walmart’s ESG Reports and other public statements.
- Human Rights Working Group: This working group supports Walmart teams in continuously advancing respect for human rights across our business. The working group includes representatives from functions such as Ethics & Compliance; Global People; Labor Relations; Responsible Sourcing; Culture, Diversity & Inclusion; Global Responsibility; Government Affairs; Communications; and Legal.
Day to day, the ESG team, as part of the Global Responsibility team, helps our business identify which ESG issues are most relevant to Walmart. Team members serve as subject matter experts and advisors on critical topics, align the business on ESG issues, priorities and actions and engage stakeholders to identify best practices, mitigate risk and effect change.
Ethics & compliance
Every Walmart associate is responsible for upholding our high ethical standards and complying with all relevant laws and regulations. Our culture of compliance is supported by thousands of associates in the Walmart Global Governance organization who are dedicated to:
- Cultivating a culture of integrity
- Establishing proper standards and controls
- Creating awareness of and advising on ethics and compliance issues
- Developing and implementing relevant and accessible training materials
- Continuous risk spotting and assessment, including through data analysis
- Conducting independent investigations into ethics and compliance violations
- Monitoring ethics and compliance issues and, where appropriate, reporting to regulatory authorities
- Remediating ethics and compliance gaps and violations
Our compliance expectations apply to all Walmart associates, suppliers and contractors and extend to the highest levels of the company. The Audit Committee of our Board of Directors has risk oversight responsibility for these matters.
Associates, suppliers, customers and community members are encouraged to raise issues, ask questions or report concerns. Walmart takes seriously the obligation to investigate and remediate these reports.
Walmart’s compliance program
The breadth of Walmart’s compliance program reflects the diversity of our business. The program covers subject matter including:
- Consumer protection
- Anti-money laundering and financial services
- Food safety
- Health and safety
- Health and wellness
- Labor and employment
- Licenses and permits
- Product safety
- Responsible sourcing
Health & safety
Walmart is committed to complying with applicable health and safety laws, regulations and standards in the markets where we operate. We aim to protect the well-being of our customers, members and associates by providing safe facilities in which to shop and work. Our Global Environmental, Health & Safety Policy guides our action.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Incident Rate (IR) and Lost Time Case Rate (LTCR) are calculations that describe the frequency of incidents per 100 full-time employees per year. The IR is based on all injuries that resulted in medical treatment beyond first aid; the LTCR is a similar calculation, except that it only includes injuries that resulted in at least one lost workday. The much lower LTCR compared to the IR indicates that the majority of recorded injuries were minor in nature.
For more information on workplace safety, please see our Global Ethics & Compliance site .
Walmart's training programs are designed to promote a culture of integrity, safety and quality in all that we do
Walmart’s training programs are designed to promote a culture of integrity, safety and quality in all that we do. Our associates receive training through mobile applications, virtual reality, computer-based learning and instructor-led training. Sessions are supplemented by ongoing communication campaigns to keep the concepts top-of-mind. Training is also provided for our suppliers through the Responsible Sourcing Academy. Below are training areas we are most often asked about by investors and stakeholders.
Walmart prohibits bribery in any form, including through the business actions of our partners. Our global anti-corruption program drives the highest standards of integrity in our business and in the global business marketplace. We train our associates to be able to recognize the various forms of bribery, to know and understand the proper procedures for handling government interactions and international donations, and to know whom to contact with questions or concerns. Associates who interact directly with foreign government officials on Walmart’s behalf are given in-depth, targeted training on our policy, their obligations under our anti-corruption programs and their duty to report suspected violations.
Discrimination & harassment
Our policy strictly prohibits discrimination or harassment by or directed at associates, job applicants, customers, members, suppliers or people working on Walmart’s behalf, and we believe our policies are broader than the minimum required by law. As part of the onboarding process, our associates participate in training modules about our Statement of Ethics , which includes a discussion about our policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment. In addition, U.S. associates are required to take a refresher training module on a regular basis.
Our ongoing associate training, as well as our Global Statement of Ethics, includes a component about how to report concerns. If an associate experiences, observes, or otherwise becomes aware of any conduct that may violate our policies, the associate can report his or her concerns to any salaried member of management using our Open Door process. The associate may also report the issue confidentially or anonymously to our Global Ethics Office via email, phone or web submission.
Additionally, a management associate’s annual cash incentive payment may be reduced by up to 30% if they engage in behavior inconsistent with our discrimination and harassment policies.
Read more about our Inclusive Leadership Education program and expectations in the Fostering inclusion section of this report.
Our team of environmental professionals develop and oversee programs to ensure compliance with air, water and waste laws and regulations that are relevant to our operations. We also train our associates how to implement those programs in their business areas, including but not limited to training on the appropriate management of waste and recycling.
Our training program is designed to manage compliance risks associated with 14 key areas relevant to ethics in the retail sector. Our risk-based training approach strives to make our customers’ safety and quality expectations our highest priority. We train our associates to be able to recognize and speak up about sexual and other forms of harassment, discrimination, financial integrity, conflicts of interest and retaliation. Walmart associates receive ethics training during onboarding and regularly thereafter.
Health & safety
Walmart aims to protect the well-being of our associates, customers and members by providing safe facilities in which to shop and work. Associates across the globe receive training on numerous health- and safety-related processes, including hazardous communications, blood-borne pathogens, proper use of fire extinguishers, emergency action plans, active shooter response, equipment use and removal, and position-specific health and safety processes.
It is important to us that our supervisors understand and comply with local laws and regulations. Training materials for supervisors in the U.S. include an explanation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the protections it affords employees. Our materials also cover prohibited supervisor behavior with regard to associates’ rights to form a union. Our materials also define NLRA-protected concerted associate behaviors that occur in the workplace and on social media.
Walmart’s Responsible Sourcing Academy provides suppliers with access to training resources, best practice guidance and educational materials developed by Walmart and outside experts. The Academy covers topics such as forced labor, health and safety, and supply chain controls. Responsible Sourcing Academy supplier representatives have completed more than 6,500 training offerings, of which more than 40% are the Stronger Together and Tackling Forced Labor training modules.
For information on workforce training, see the
section of this report.
Disaster response & resiliency
Ensuring our company’s resilience in the face of disaster and disruption is a priority for the company.
Walmart’s Emergency Management Department has the primary responsibility to identify, assess and respond to events such as natural disasters, disease outbreaks and other crises. The Emergency Management core team helps to identify emerging risks, prepare facilities and associates for disasters, monitor the development of crises and serve as a triage point for emergencies in our retail facilities, supply chain facilities and offices around the world.
As needed, the team deploys cross-functional subject matter teams throughout our business to prepare for and respond to disasters quickly and effectively.
Walmart’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and serves as a central command center for preparation and response activity.
Each business unit and corporate function has business continuity and crisis plans to guide recovery in the event of an emergency. After each event, the Emergency Management team conducts after-action reviews to learn and adapt from each situation. Walmart also coordinates with governmental agencies, as well as nonprofits and volunteer organizations around the world, to support local communities in the face of disaster.
This past year we responded to several emergencies, including flooding in Oklahoma, a tornado in Missouri and the tragic shootings in El Paso, Texas and Southaven, Mississippi.
Our next steps in response to the tragedies in El Paso & Southaven
In the weeks following the tragedies, we engaged with many associates and stakeholders to understand the important issues that arose from the horrific events in El Paso and Southaven, and we reflected on issues that were raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence. We listened to many people, both inside and outside our company, as we deliberated our next steps and the role Walmart can play in helping to make the country safer.
In September 2019, we announced some key changes:
- After selling through our current inventory commitments, we will discontinue sales of:
» Short-barrel rifle ammunition that, while commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large-capacity clips on military-style weapons, and
» Handgun ammunition.
- We will discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking our complete exit from handguns.
- We will respectfully request that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores or Sam’s Clubs, even in states where open carry is permitted, unless they are authorized law enforcement officers. This is motivated by our desire to maintain a safe environment for our customers and associates.
- We will share information within the retail industry to promote best practices for safer gun sales transactions. For example, we are exploring ways to share the technical specifications and compliance controls for our proprietary firearms sales technology platform.
We also encouraged our nation’s leaders to strengthen background checks and remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger. We believe the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons Ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness. We must also do more, as a country, to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior. Last September, our CEO sent letters to the White House and Congressional leadership calling for action on these common-sense measures.
These changes built upon earlier efforts to take common-sense steps that allow us to serve customers while creating a safer environment, including:
- We stopped selling handguns in every state (except for Alaska) in the mid-1990s.
- We stopped selling military-style rifles such as the AR-15 in 2015.
- We raised the age limit to purchase a firearm or ammunition to 21 in 2018.
- Walmart only sells a firearm after receiving a “green light” on a background check, while federal law only requires the absence of a “red light” after three business days. We don’t sell a firearm until we receive a “green light” regardless of the time period.
- We videotape the point of sale for firearms, only allow certain associates to sell firearms and secure firearms in a locking case with individual locks, among other measures.
Please see additional details in a note
Doug McMillon, our CEO, sent to Walmart associates on September 3, 2019.
Our updated Firearms and Ammunition guidelines can be found on our Corporate Policies website .
Policy & advocacy
We aspire to meaningfully contribute to effective policy regarding issues such as climate change, minimum wage, firearms, opioids and privacy
Our guiding aim in public policy discussions is promoting the interests of our customers, the public and our business. Whether it is through direct engagement with policymakers, public advocacy, or national or global coalitions, we aspire to meaningfully contribute to effective policy regarding issues such as climate change, minimum wage, firearms, opioids and privacy.
We continue to support the goals of the Paris Agreement. We attended the Paris and Bonn United Nations Climate Change Conferences of the Parties, the Global Climate Action Summit and Climate Week events, advocating for business engagement in emissions reduction. We also joined the “We Are Still In” Coalition — sending a signal that we need international action on climate change at a pace to deal with the challenges posed. In the U.S., while states and cities have been at the forefront in passing aggressive climate reduction goals, we believe a federal standard would create a level playing field, accelerate climate action and demonstrate leadership.
Minimum wage in the U.S.
Walmart has set a minimum starting wage of $11.00 per hour for our associates; our average hourly wage for full- and part-time associates at the end of FY2020 was more than $14.00 per hour.26 At our annual shareholders’ meeting in June 2019, our CEO called on the U.S. Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour. Read more in the Retail opportunity section of this report.
Every single tobacco sale to a minor is one too many. We have taken additional steps to help prevent the sale of tobacco to anyone underage. As of July 2019, across our entire business, Walmart and Sam’s Club raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21. In September 2019, we decided to exit the e-cigarette business and discontinue the sale of all items associated with the category, such as devices, pods and e-liquid refills, at all Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club U.S. locations.
Last year, Business Roundtable’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation was released, outlining a modern standard for corporate responsibility in which companies operate for the benefit of all stakeholders — customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders
In September 2019, we submitted a letter to the White House and Congressional leadership asking them to consider the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons Ban. We also encourage lawmakers to strengthen background checks for gun buyers and remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose a threat to themselves or others.
Walmart is committed to taking a leadership role in opioid stewardship and has developed a comprehensive opioid stewardship initiative with policies, programs and tools aimed at helping prevent opioid abuse and dependence. Walmart supports the development and implementation of a national prescription drug tracking database that would allow all 50 states to exchange information.
We support state and federal legislation to limit the duration of initial prescriptions for acute conditions to seven days, and we support requiring e-prescriptions for all controlled substances.
See our Opioids Stewardship website for more information.
We are also active in coalitions such as Business Roundtable, Business for Nature, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), One Planet Business for Biodiversity and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). These groups help us join our voice to that of other leading companies in support of policies that impact the retail sector and beyond.
- Business Roundtable: Business Roundtable promotes the U.S. economy and expanded opportunities for Americans through sound public policies. Last year, Business Roundtable’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation was released outlining a modern standard for corporate responsibility in which companies operate for the benefit of all stakeholders — customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders. The Statement was signed by 181 CEOs, including Walmart CEO Doug McMillon who now serves as the organization’s Chair.
- Business for Nature: A global coalition bringing together influential organizations and forward-thinking businesses to address natural capital conservation through business.
- Consumer Goods Forum (CGF): Composed of more than 400 retailers and manufacturers, CGF addresses sustainability challenges, including forced labor, deforestation, health and wellness, food safety, food waste, plastic waste and data transparency.
- World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD): A global, CEO-led organization of more than 200 leading businesses working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world. Walmart is also a member of One Planet Business for Biodiversity , an international business coalition hosted by WBCSD that seeks to protect and restore biodiversity through initiatives in regenerative agriculture and forest initiatives.
Walmart’s Government Relations Policy governs the company’s interaction with elected officials and legislative and regulatory bodies at the federal, state and local level. Walmart employs federal and state registered lobbyists and registered lobbyist consultants, and Walmart engages in lobbying contacts as defined under the U.S. Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). For more information as to our federal lobbying efforts, see the Lobbying Disclosure Electronic Filing System at Senate.gov (type “Walmart Inc. into both the “client” and “registrant” search boxes). State and federal lobbying information can be found at our ESG Investors website .
The taxes we pay are an important part of our company’s societal impact. Over the last five years, Walmart has paid more than $26 billion in corporate income-based taxes worldwide.
Cybersecurity & data privacy
Walmart’s goal is simple: To be the most trusted retailer. As we introduce technology into the daily lives of our customers — online and in store — we are considering legal, ethical and societal values in order to get it right. We plan to build on our existing relationship of trust and develop a holistic, people-led, data-enhanced relationship with our customers and associates. Our customers and their families trust that we will do the right thing with their data, and with the technology that touches their lives. As an example of how we build on the trust of our customers, Walmart does not sell or rent individually identifiable customer data to third parties. Our privacy policies govern the collection and use of customer data by Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club, and describe the measures we take to protect information and how customers may initiate inquiries and raise concerns regarding the collection, sharing and use of their personal data.
Over the last five years, Walmart has paid more than $26 billion in corporate income-based taxes worldwide
Further, to protect our global enterprise, we developed a program based on the National Institute of Standards Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. We have established procedures for responding to data incidents around the globe, including when and how to engage with internal management, stakeholders and law enforcement.
Finally, Walmart is committed to working with policymakers to create public policy that will enhance consumer privacy, whether we meet those customers in the physical world, in the digital world or, as is increasingly the case, both. We strongly support bipartisan efforts as we work toward a national privacy law that protects the rights of all consumers in the U.S. These laws should have a goal of preempting a patchwork of state laws, which are inconsistent and insufficient to protect individual privacy.
As a retailer, our company’s performance 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.
Below we have outlined some of the many steps we take to hear from our stakeholders. Walmart leaders, including representatives of the ESG Working Group, routinely review stakeholder feedback to understand opportunities for improvement and to prioritize issues for consideration by leadership. Coordinated by the ESG team, the working group provides periodic updates to the ESG Steering Committee on recommended actions and next steps.
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 and in-person discussions
- Social media interaction through managed Facebook and Twitter pages
- In-person communication in our stores
- Outreach through email and phone, as well as communication through our customer call centers
Topics that we engage with customers on include product country of origin, the nutrition profile of foods, ingredients and responsible sourcing.
Our associates are the core of our business, and we engage with them in a variety of ways, including personal one-on-one interaction, team meetings, cascaded leadership communications, company intranet and Facebook Workplace and other social media, as well as traditional digital communications such as email. We use the feedback we receive from our associates to improve our business and associate proposition — for example, recent changes to our parental leave policies in the U.S. were informed by this feedback. Transparency and communication are key to driving Walmart’s internal culture of trust, and we are committed to continual improvement in these efforts. For more on how we engage with our associates and integrate their feedback into the business, see the Associate voice section of this report.
Suppliers & people who work in product supply chains
We wouldn’t have a business without suppliers and the people who work to bring products and services to our customers. We engage suppliers to share our standards and expectations; develop new products, packaging, services, and more effective and efficient business processes; receive their feedback and input on how we can better work with them and serve customers; and help them measure performance and improve capabilities, including the sustainability of supply chains. For example:
We wouldn’t have a business without suppliers and the people who work to bring products and services to our customers
- Walmart’s Responsible Sourcing Academy houses information about our standards for worker safety in factories, training, best practices and educational materials developed by third parties and by Walmart.
- We provide additional outreach and support for minority- and women-owned businesses to increase the diversity of our supplier pipeline. We also hosted our sixth annual Open Call in June 2019, where hundreds of suppliers had an opportunity to secure a face-to-face pitch meeting with a Walmart buyer. Last year’s attendees could secure deals ranging from a handful of stores in local markets to supplying hundreds, even thousands, of stores, Sam’s Clubs and Walmart.com.
- At our biannual Sustainability Milestone events, we bring our suppliers and experts from nonprofits and academia together to discuss a topical ESG issue, providing a platform to problem solve and share best practices. In November 2019 at our Sustainable Packaging Innovation Summit, we shared, among other things, a playbook for sustainable packaging. As part of these meetings, we often host in-depth conversations on shared ESG challenges.
- We host a variety of live and online events, communicate at trade events and keep in close communication with suppliers via timely updates
With more than 11,500 stores and an online presence, we are an important part of many local communities
At Walmart, we work hard to support the communities where we operate and where our associates and customers live. With more than 11,500 stores and an online presence, we are an important part of many local communities. See the Communities section of this report for more details.
We engage with shareholders through:
- Formal communications: Quarterly earnings materials, investor conferences, investment community meetings, live earnings call with the investment community, our annual report to shareholders, our annual proxy statement and other information made available via our corporate website
- Shareholder outreach programs: Shareholder outreach is conducted during the year to discuss corporate governance, executive compensation and other matters related to Walmart’s enterprise strategy
- Walmart resources: Our website and hotline
As part of our regular shareholder engagement outreach, following our 2019 annual shareholders meeting, we invited shareholders representing approximately 570 million shares, including many of our largest investors, to participate in our outreach program. We ultimately engaged with shareholders representing approximately 525 million shares, or about 38% of our public float, to discuss strategy, compensation and ESG issues, among other topics. More information about our engagement with shareholders is in our 2020 Annual Proxy Statement.
ESG analysts & benchmarking organizations
Our Senior Director of ESG Trust & Transparency regularly engages with ESG analysts and researchers through phone conversations, in-person meetings and written communication. These specialists offer diverse viewpoints and their perspectives inform our initiatives.
In these communications, we discuss Walmart’s strategy, governance practices, compliance programs and other ESG-related matters. We also systematically review and analyze annual information requests that we receive from organizations to understand which topics third parties prioritize and what types of information are most commonly requested. For guidance, we consider reporting frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative , Sustainability Accounting Standards Board , the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures .
NGOs, advisory councils & grantees
With an increasingly interconnected world, the scale of the environmental and social challenges facing our planet continues to grow. Many problems facing the world today, from deforestation to human trafficking, are beyond the scope of any single organization to resolve. Because we aim to create lasting impact and system-wide change, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation collaborate with leading third parties to help solve complex problems.
We have direct dialogue with many institutions — both our critics and our advocates — to understand critical ESG issues and the role Walmart can play to help address them. We have created and engaged with several advisory councils to offer critical input on Walmart’s business and ESG practices and initiatives. Working with third-party advisory councils enables us to benefit from an array of expertise and opinions and helps us shape our business initiatives.
Walmart’s guiding principle for government engagement is to promote public policy that fulfills the interests of our customers, the public and our business. Sound public policy results from the intersection of those interests. Whether the issue at stake is taxation, trade, technology or the workforce, we advocate for the long-term interests of our associates, our customers, our business and our communities. We are committed to providing substantive and technical input to legislative bodies and executive agencies across all issues where we have expertise. We make it a practice to do so in ways that build relationships and trust.
We aim to create lasting impact and system-wide change
As noted elsewhere in this report, and in addition to the proactive stakeholder engagement approaches outlined above, Walmart employs several grievance mechanisms to solicit, assess and address the concerns of associates, customers, workers in the supply chain, people in communities where we operate and other stakeholders. These include:
- Global helpline: Walmart provides global and local phone numbers that anyone can use to ask questions and report concerns related to Walmart’s business, 24 hours a day seven days a week. The helpline is equipped to handle most local languages spoken in each of the retail markets where we operate.
- Global email address: This email address ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) is available for reporting concerns, asking questions, or simply seeking guidance for situations that may be unclear. All contacts are received by Walmart’s Global Ethics and Compliance team in Bentonville, Arkansas.
- WalmartEthics.com : This website is available in 13 languages and accessible globally. It provides a platform where stakeholders can ask questions, read our Statement of Ethics , submit ethical concerns and follow up on previously reported concerns.
We triage inquiries and allegations received through these channels, routing them to the appropriate teams for further consideration or action. In some cases, we open a formal investigation, using internal investigators or a third party, depending on the nature of the allegation. We work to see that concerns are appropriately addressed in a timely manner. We also monitor the number and types of inquiries and allegations received through these and other channels. This information helps us to understand where we may need to strengthen policies or procedures.
We encourage stakeholders to raise concerns and to report activities they suspect may contravene the values and positions we express in our policies and statements. We will not retaliate against any party for raising concerns in good faith.
Stakeholders' ESG priorities
Suppliers & people who work in product supply chains
Shareholders & ESG research analysts
NGOs, grantees & advisory councils