Sustainability at Walmart: Success over the Long Haul

At the core of Walmart’s corporate purpose is the principle of “shared value.”  The company views its mission as increasing the value of its business by helping to address important social needs.  And in this article, Walmart’s Senior Director of ESG discusses how the company applies the lens of shared value to three of its most significant ESG priorities:  (1) economic opportunity for Walmart associates; (2) the sustainability of its supply chains, with an emphasis on the safety and livelihoods of workers; and (3) climate change, including the reduction of plastic waste.

What’s more, the company sees itself playing a role in transforming society through its own business practices. In reflecting on her decades of work in sustainability, the author emphasizes the value of and potential for greater stakeholder engagement and alliances of corporations with NGOs (like the World Wildlife and Environmental Defense Funds) that aim to help both lower-income people and the environment at the same time.  But the author’s vision is even more ambitious:  “In upholding and seeking to maximize its principle of shared value, Walmart aims not only to run a highly efficient all-channel retail business, but to help bring about large-scale and lasting improvements to all the social ecosystems whose functioning is part of and critical to that business.”