Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wal-Mart, The Good Bully

Wal-Mart consider by many to be evil because they say it operates in a way that increases government welfare spending. It contributes to suburban sprawl and drives local companies out of business. It discriminates against workers and gives its workers bad health care. Finally, it get goods from countries who employment standards are terrible.
But here Wal-Mart is getting praise for it's "heavy handed practices" in protecting the environment and helping the poor. What in the world is going on?
What's changed? Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, who announced last month that he will step down in February, has led an ambitious sustainability campaign, opened up to critics and promised to behave more responsibly. One of his last acts as CEO was to convene a summit of Wal-Mart suppliers in China to tell them that they had to adhere to higher ethical and environmental standards.

This is a win-win situation for Wal-Mart. They get good PR for being socially and environmentally responsible and if they can make it profitable so much the better. Of course, there are going to be people who'll hate Wal-Mart not matter how much they help the poor and the planet.
To be sure, not everyone is buying into Wal-Mart's sustainability work. The International Labor Rights Forum, an activist group, has an ongoing campaign against Wal-Mart, saying its "ethical sourcing" program is ineffective. Some environmentalists argue that Wal-Mart's business model - selling cheap stuff made all around the world in big-box stores - can never become sustainable.

Basically, they think Wal-Mart needs to be destroyed even if it harms the poor of the world.

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