What Wal-Mart Does Right

Wal-Mart, natchI’m pretty sick of green groups singling out Wal-Mart like the poster child of big, bad, corporate, exploitation bullies. Green people for years talked about the big consumerism and Wal-Mart monster that appealed to that mass consumerism and a throw-away society. Liberal people snub Wal-Mart for its employment practices. Wealthy people snub Wal-Mart because they’d rather shop at Whole Paycheck. Don’t get me wrong, there is a little truth to all these statements. But, I’ve also noticed there are many things that Wal-Mart does right.

For instance, they hired Adam Werbach to help them become more environmentally friendly. Mr. Werbach had spent 17 years before that working on environmental activism through his leadership in the Sierra Club and other notable environmental organizations. Shortly after that Wal-Mart started offering the new CFL light bulbs and organic food.

The fact that Wal-Mart does provide employment for many people shouldn’t be overlooked either, in an economy that is hemorrhaging jobs everywhere. While I’m not keen on some of their noted unfair practices, the fact is – a job is a job. You get paid and it helps put food on the table for your family. That’s a HUGE benefit these days.

Now, another fellow blogger is noticing that Wal-Mart is also starting to not offer products that consumers are finding to be to be unsafe, like items that are products like baby bottles and infant formula cans that have a chemical called BPA. This chemical is approved by the FDA, but consumers are much more aware these days that not everything that’s on a store shelf is safe – no matter what government agency approves it. So, now Wal-Mart is being attacked for usurping the role of the FDA. It’s never ending the kind of criticism this company gets.

And, no one remembers that it was Wal-Mart’s beautifully efficient distribution system that ended being the most help in getting needed items into the New Orleans area during Hurricane Katrina, before and after the storm.

Honestly, I like Wal-Mart and I think they are doing many things right and are willing to change and evolve as they learn what works in our capitalistic economy and what doesn’t. It doesn’t hurt either that your money goes a whole lot further with the groceries there than other supermarkets too.

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3 responses to “What Wal-Mart Does Right

  1. Thanks for the link. It should be pointed out that Wal-Mart’s labor policies are horrific, though. Not just the (illegal) union-busting, but also things like the deliberate forced turnover to minimize their benefits obligation. I’m glad that you recognize their unfair labor practices.

  2. They are not alone in these practices, they are just the biggest most notable example of them. There are many companies, in this tight economy, that are doing rather unfair things to their employees. I can name a few: not paying them for weeks, sometimes, months, keeping them temporary for years and years so they get no benefits, or laying off older workers in favor of younger ones who don’t have as many health issues. Oh, let’s not forget all the retirement plans and pensions that have gone up in smoke. That’s money put in these plans from the employees paycheck that can disappear overnight sometimes. It’s downright scary and it’s not just Wal-Mart.

  3. I agree—Wal-Mart probably captures more attention because it’s so noticeably successful as a company. BTW, highly recommended: Thomas Geoghegan’s Which Side Are You On?: Trying To Be For Labor When It’s Flat On Its Back. Entertaining and informative.

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