Wal-Mart has achieved the status of a supermarket giant right before my eyes, but how it got there was shocking. Ethics plays a major role in this case and it is a fact that Wal-Mart has made some very good decisions but some very bad ones as well. These choices have ended up negatively impacting communities in many countries and some situations have even made me sick to my stomach. It is a business that I believe once was great, but is now a parasite that is infecting the world and making it sick. This is all about big business and the power that comes with hundreds of billions of dollars and the things you can dictate and get away with having such power. Nobody likes a bully even the bully, this is a prime example of somebody with their own agenda in mind.
What I Think The Real Problem Is
There are a lot of problems with Wal-Mart and I will explain my thoughts on these issues.
In the beginning, when Sam opened his first store in Arkansas it was for all the right reasons, he had morals and goals to provide a reasonably priced product for his customers. But, it did not take long before Wal-Mart started to ruin communities after that first store opened. We can see from the past that Wal-Mart ruined local merchants, turned thriving downtowns into vacant wastelands. What I think the proponents don't realize is that when Wal-Mart comes to your city they actually do very little for the economy and tend to impact it in a negative way.
Wal-Mart treats their employees poorly and after reading the case and watching some videos there is a lot of supporting evidence of this. Getting Wal-Mart to raise their minimum wage has been one of the most difficult things. You would think if they really cared about their employees this would be a no brainer, most of their associates are being paid a poverty level wage for a family of four. Not only are they being underpaid but Wal-Mart associates are being overworked, told they can't have breaks and much more frowned upon actions. These people are not being treated fairly and are being taken advantage of. They need a job and Wal-Mart has the upper hand because their associates would be unemployed without them. Everyone deserves a living wage and to be treated fairly it doesn't make sense to me why one of the wealthiest businesses in the world has a hard time doing that.
Health care has to be up there with the most important things a person and or family needs to survive. From my research, I have concluded that Wal-Mart offers its employees less than adequate health insurance. This is not humane, their associates barely make enough to pay rent and their groceries let alone their health insurance. If Wal-Mart was going to do something right it would be to offer its employees better health benefits. After all, it would benefit Wal-Mart to have healthy employees.
Most of the goods Wal-Mart sells are manufactured and come from outside of the United States. For me, this is not very good because it means there are fewer jobs in my country. But, even though the jobs are in other countries doesn't mean it's good for those workers either. Many of those workers have come out and explained to the public how Wal-Mart treats them. These people are treated like machines who don't need food, sleep, and relationships. Sometimes workers oversees are working twenty four hour shifts and are sleeping in the factories. Until I read the case I only heard stories, but, I didn't realize how bad it was until now. On top of all the ways these people have been treated, they get paid even less than Wal-Mart associates in the United States, way less.
There are a lot of key contributors in the case starting from the CEO all the way down to the lower level managers at Wal-Mart. Each one of them has played a part in the way cities have been ruined and employees have been treated unfairly. Not everybody running Wal-Mart is bad and has the wrong intentions but I would say there is a majority who didn't have good intentions. A lot of the situations that have transpired over the years have to do with one's own agenda and only caring about their own success. Wal-Mart comes into a community and small merchants fail and have to close and economies tank, the person putting that new Wal-Mart only has intentions of making sure the company doing well, that is their job.
My Grandmother was born in Germany and my Father grew up there. When I read that Wal-Mart failed there it was no surprise to me that they were gone within ten years of opening their doors. Germans like quality goods and soon realized a lot of the things they bought at Wal-Mart didn't last as long as the hand sewn shirt or sweater and the bread tasted like a factory line. They are accustomed to buying from small shops that specialize in a few things and make it really well. Big box stores are fairly new to Germany, they just don't have the land in such a small country. A livable wage is very important to Germans and they quickly realized Wal-Mart doesn't pay a high enough wage to their associates. Because this is one of few countries Wal-Mart failed in and I have roots in Germany this really stuck out to me.
Wal-Mart has a social responsibility and knows right from wrong but they have their agenda in mind. If they have to break a few rules to make sure the business thrives and continues to make money you can be sure they will do it and we have seen first hand that they have. When Sam started this company back in 1962, in my opinion, he truly did have all the right intentions and a picture perfect business model that he lived by. Sam started many programs to bring back jobs to the United States, he focused on environmental impacts. Sam made efforts to benefit the communities in this country, protect the environment and to stay out of politics. Unfortunately, as time went on and a new CEO took on the company a lot of these visions Sam intended for Wal-Mart had fallen through the cracks. It turned into how powerful can Wal-Mart get.
I would start by saying the wages of all associates need to increase dramatically. Health care is very important for everybody and Wal-Mart associates deserve better health care than is provided. This needs to start becoming more about all of Wal-Marts employees and not just about the CEO and a couple other higher level employees. This is a team effort and if you're not working as a team, eventually things will fall apart and you will lose. It is very important to bring back as many jobs to the United States manufacturers and to get on board with environmental protection practices once started by the founder Sam Walton.
Implementing new things doesn't always work out right away. When you raise the associates wage and give them better health care, that is more money out of Wal-Marts pocket. In the long term, it is only a minor set back and Wal-Mart will benefit from it when their associate's become more dedicated and produce quality work. They will get a sense that the company they work for actually cares about them and their families well being. Bringing back manufacturing jobs to the United States would benefit the quality of Wal-Marts products. Again, this will cost Wal-Mart more money but in turn, bring in more valued customers, stimulate the economy in the United States, and in turn benefit Wal-Mart.
It is very important that Wal-Mart gets involved in environmental protection efforts. Today, we face some of the worst environmental impacts and since Wal-Mart is one of the biggest companies in the world, they contribute a lot to it. This is something very important to me because I am already witnessing the effects of environmental pollution, furthermore, I want a place for people in the future to enjoy. If some of the largest companies aren't on board with this we face a major threat to our planet. This will cost Wal-Mart time and money but it will put them in a good light and the world will look up to them for their efforts.
This was a very interesting case, I have always heard negative stories and stigmas about Wal-Mart but have never done my own research. I have found that most of the things I have heard over the years are unfortunately true and very upsetting. This is clear to me that money and power is the driving factor in Wal-Mart motives and that a small percentage of people succeed. Wal-Mart could have taken what Sam Walton visioned and became a business loved by everybody, but, it has turned into a company disliked by many. It's unclear to me where Wal-Marts future lies if they continue to make the same choices. They need to make positive changes and if or when they do they might see something good come out it.