H. LEE SCOTT, JR.: Let me first say that as I was ushered onto the stage and introduced as the President of Afghanistan, it suddenly dawned on me that there are tougher jobs in the world than the one I have. So I think if you think about the people on this stage, and you think about the people in the audience, the truth is, this world faces significant challenges, whether you’re the leader of a government, an NGO, you’re a thought leader, a global organization. At Walmart, when we looked at it, the question you had to ask yourself is, is there a role for business in these issues that society in general faces? And you had to come to terms with what has traditionally been the argument, and that is that there is a conflict between contributing to the social good, other than some percentage of profits, and running a business. And thanks to great guidance from associates, both internal and external, what we realized as a company is that if we’re going to resolve the problems that you talk about in this forum, it is going to take all of us. You cannot wait for government, business already has a bias for action, business has the ability to allocate capital, both human capital and financial capital, to address issues. Business has the opportunity to create innovation that will, in fact, resolve many of the problems that we talk about when it comes to climate change. And what has, I guess shocked us, is the fact that there are benefits far beyond what we thought about.
First of all, our whole premise is that we save people money so that they can live better. Well, what we found is we’ve gone down this journey in sustainability, is the first things we’re doing is we are taking waste out of this whole stream of products and things that all of us are using. And they’re not exotic decisions. One I talked to General Mills about is that they straightened the noodles on the hamburger helper, and more noodles go into the box, and the boxes are now smaller. And thousands of tons of waste are eliminated, truck loads of movement are eliminated, fuel is eliminated. And it is basic good business practices that ultimately cause the price of the product itself to go down.
And it is better for the environment, and in our case, one of the things I underestimated, two things I underestimated. One is that our suppliers were waiting for us to ask. And when we started asking the question, they actually accelerated. And number two is I had no idea of the momentum that our associates would feel, the pride they would feel from this. Not just in the US, but in San Jose, Costa Rica; in Argentina; the people in the UK said we’ve been wondering when is Walmart going to do this. Our dot com business in San Francisco. The level of pride and enthusiasm and commitment among our associates has been incredible. And at the same time, what it does it allows those working people you’re talking about, they get to participate in sustainability without having to sacrifice their standard of living.