CEO Lee Scott Speaks About Wal-Mart's New Strategies

Yesterday Wal-Mart's CEO Lee Scott presented a speech to over 7,000 store managers. Surprisingly, the focus of his speech was Wal-Mart's devotion to sustainability. Scott cited the store's selling over 145 million compact fluorescent lightbulbs, and stressed the company's mission of continuing its pursuits toward energy efficiency. He also announced that the retail giant would work with suppliers to make its more power-hungry products 25 percent more energy-efficient over the next three years.

Also in his speech, Scott announced Walmart's continued exploration of ways to improve its healthcare policies and practices. Of note, he said, was that Wal-Mart employees with health insurance has risen to 93 percent. Now, Wal-Mart will also promote electronic prescriptions, to reduce costs by using less material and to decrease potentially-dangerous prescription errors.

Since the media backlash against Wal-Mart a few years ago, the company has strived to remake itself and its image by embracing sustainability. Scott's speech illustrates a continuum along this trajectory. But are will these moves be enough? While these are great attempts, the world's largest retailer won't be able to change minds until it takes a more dominate leadership position and becomes an agent of industry change.

Here are a few things Wal-Mart could do:


  • Give huge incentives to suppliers that reduce packaging materials and embrace sustainable practices.

  • Spotlight on the store's greenest products. And the company should stress that such practices will probably reduce cost, increase profit, and increase demand.

What do you think about Wal-Mart's recent sustainable practices? What do you think the company should do next?

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8 Comments

  • chris

    I agree. They're still an evil empire. The only thing they can do to reverse their effect would be to shut down every store, demolish and recycle all the materials from it, and create parks where their 500,000 square feet footprint of building and parking lot was.

    Using buzzwords to create profits is nothing new for Wal-Mart. Now, their doing it at the expense of our environment which is terribly irresponsible.

  • Marnee

    Given: many people dislike Wal-Mart
    Also a given: many people shop at Wal-Mart

    Sustainability Ideas
    - Ask the front line employees for their suggestions; provide a certain % of the savings as a reward for contributing a workable idea that can and is implemented
    - Reward customers who bring their own bags; offer a coupon on the next visit for $1-$5 based on how many bags used – or plastic bags not used
    - Use natural light wherever possible in stores, sky lights
    - Install solar panels on roof tops and / or solar water heating systems for bathrooms and food prep areas for stores that have them
    - Require in store venders, like McDonalds, to be as energy efficient as the store where they are located
    - Have a competition between geographically similar stores based on energy cost per square foot (allows stores of different sizes to compete)

  • Richard

    A start but a long ways to go and absolutely no recognition for the part Wal Mart has played in this global crisis. The company's decisions to sell more and more cheap, disposable items from overseas manufacturers has filled up landfills as these shoddy items were tossed out because it was simply cheaper to replace them than repair them. How many cheap VCRs and DVD players have gone to landfills in the past decade because Wal Mart was driving itself on price, price, price.

    This is simply riding the next wave for a company that really has no base principals. The healthcare is a good thing, but it's part of the company's PR. Electronic prescriptions save Wal Mart money and they will likely require employees to buy those prescriptions in their pharmacies. Sustainability is just another wave Wal Mart wants to ride and it has become much better at PR in recent years. Once upon a time, Wal Mart was the "Buy American" store. Then it destroyed American manufacturing with its practices to sell things cheaply with no consideration of quality or the impact on its own communities of its sourcing choices.

    No, Wal Mart has to do a lot more and accept responsibility for what it has done. How many of those $22 DVD players from Christmas do you think will be plugging landfills by next Christmas?

  • J.D.

    They're still evil. They need to do more to encourage supplier diversity and fair employment practices. As far as I'm concerned this move just puts lipstick on the pig.

  • Joseph Allan

    I agree. They're still an evil empire. The only thing they can do to reverse their effect would be to shut down every store, demolish and recycle all the materials from it, and create parks where their 500,000 square feet footprint of building and parking lot was.

    Using buzzwords to create profits is nothing new for Wal-Mart. Now, their doing it at the expense of our environment which is terribly irresponsible.

  • Joseph Allan

    Given: many people dislike Wal-Mart
    Also a given: many people shop at Wal-Mart

    Sustainability Ideas
    - Ask the front line employees for their suggestions; provide a certain % of the savings as a reward for contributing a workable idea that can and is implemented
    - Reward customers who bring their own bags; offer a coupon on the next visit for $1-$5 based on how many bags used – or plastic bags not used
    - Use natural light wherever possible in stores, sky lights
    - Install solar panels on roof tops and / or solar water heating systems for bathrooms and food prep areas for stores that have them
    - Require in store venders, like McDonalds, to be as energy efficient as the store where they are located
    - Have a competition between geographically similar stores based on energy cost per square foot (allows stores of different sizes to compete)

  • Joseph Allan

    A start but a long ways to go and absolutely no recognition for the part Wal Mart has played in this global crisis. The company's decisions to sell more and more cheap, disposable items from overseas manufacturers has filled up landfills as these shoddy items were tossed out because it was simply cheaper to replace them than repair them. How many cheap VCRs and DVD players have gone to landfills in the past decade because Wal Mart was driving itself on price, price, price.

    This is simply riding the next wave for a company that really has no base principals. The healthcare is a good thing, but it's part of the company's PR. Electronic prescriptions save Wal Mart money and they will likely require employees to buy those prescriptions in their pharmacies. Sustainability is just another wave Wal Mart wants to ride and it has become much better at PR in recent years. Once upon a time, Wal Mart was the "Buy American" store. Then it destroyed American manufacturing with its practices to sell things cheaply with no consideration of quality or the impact on its own communities of its sourcing choices.

    No, Wal Mart has to do a lot more and accept responsibility for what it has done. How many of those $22 DVD players from Christmas do you think will be plugging landfills by next Christmas?

  • Joseph Allan

    They're still evil. They need to do more to encourage supplier diversity and fair employment practices. As far as I'm concerned this move just puts lipstick on the pig.