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Walmart is one of the largest and most successful retail chains in the world, serving millions of customers each day. With such a massive presence, it is no surprise that the company is held to high ethical standards. In this blog post, we will explore what constitutes an ethics violation at Walmart and discuss some of the most notable violations that have occurred over the years.
Code of Ethics
Walmart has a Code of Ethics that outlines the company’s values and expectations for its employees. The code emphasizes integrity, respect for others, compliance with laws and regulations, and responsible sourcing and manufacturing practices. Violations of the code can result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment. Let’s take a closer look at some of the areas covered by Walmart’s Code of Ethics.
Conflicts of Interest
Walmart employees are expected to avoid any conflicts of interest that could compromise their judgment or impartiality. This includes situations where an employee or their family member has a financial interest in a business that does or seeks to do business with Walmart. Employees are also expected to avoid any relationships that could create a conflict of interest, such as romantic relationships with suppliers or competitors.
In 2018, Walmart faced allegations of a conflict of interest when it was revealed that the company had hired an executive’s son-in-law to work on a real estate project. The executive had recused himself from the hiring decision, but the incident still raised questions about Walmart’s hiring practices and potential conflicts of interest.
Discrimination and Harassment
Walmart has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment. This includes discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion, disability, or any other protected characteristic. Employees are also expected to treat each other with respect and refrain from any behavior that could be considered harassing or bullying.
In 2019, Walmart faced a discrimination lawsuit filed by a group of female employees who alleged that they had been paid less than their male counterparts and passed over for promotions. The lawsuit also alleged that Walmart had a culture of gender bias and discrimination. Walmart denied the allegations and argued that it had taken steps to promote diversity and inclusion.
Bribery and Corruption
Walmart is committed to ethical business practices and compliance with laws and regulations. This includes strict adherence to anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws, such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Walmart employees are expected to conduct business with integrity and avoid any activity that could be perceived as bribery or corruption.
In 2012, Walmart faced a major bribery scandal when it was revealed that the company had allegedly paid bribes to Mexican officials to expedite permits for new stores. The scandal resulted in a federal investigation and fines totaling over $282 million. Walmart also implemented new compliance measures to prevent future violations.
Walmart is committed to responsible sourcing and manufacturing practices, including efforts to reduce waste, conserve energy, and protect the environment. The company has set ambitious sustainability goals, such as sourcing 100% of its energy from renewable sources and achieving zero waste in its operations.
In 2019, Walmart faced criticism from environmental groups for its plastic waste reduction efforts. The company had pledged to reduce its plastic waste, but some critics argued that the company was not doing enough to address the problem. Walmart has since taken steps to improve its plastic waste reduction efforts, such as eliminating plastic bags from some stores and encouraging suppliers to use more sustainable packaging materials.
Supply Chain Responsibility
Walmart is committed to responsible sourcing and manufacturing practices throughout its supply chain. The company expects its suppliers to adhere to ethical standards and comply with laws and regulations. Walmart has established a Supplier Code of Conduct that outlines expectations for suppliers, including requirements for labor and human rights, environmental sustainability, and responsible sourcing.
In 2019, Walmart faced criticism over its supply chain practices when a report from Human Rights Watch alleged that the company’s seafood suppliers in Thailand were using forced labor. Walmart responded by investigating the allegations and terminating relationships with suppliers that were found to be violating the company’s standards. Walmart also joined a coalition of retailers and seafood companies to improve working conditions in the Thai seafood industry.
Data Privacy and Security
Walmart is committed to protecting the privacy and security of its customers’ data. The company has established policies and procedures to safeguard customer information and comply with data protection laws. Walmart employees are expected to follow these policies and take appropriate measures to protect customer data.
In 2020, Walmart faced a lawsuit alleging that the company had violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by using facial recognition technology in its stores without obtaining proper consent from customers. Walmart denied the allegations and argued that it had complied with BIPA. The case is still ongoing.
Walmart is committed to fair labor practices and complying with labor laws and regulations. The company has established policies and procedures to ensure that employees are paid fairly, treated with respect, and provided with a safe working environment. Walmart also encourages employees to report any concerns or violations of labor laws or company policies.
In 2015, Walmart faced criticism over its labor practices when a report from the National Employment Law Project alleged that the company had engaged in wage theft by failing to pay employees for all hours worked and violating overtime laws. Walmart denied the allegations and argued that it had taken steps to improve its labor practices.
In conclusion, Walmart is held to high ethical standards and is expected to comply with laws and regulations while conducting business with integrity and responsibility. Violations of the company’s Code of Ethics can result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment. By focusing on areas such as conflicts of interest, discrimination and harassment, bribery and corruption, environmental responsibility, supply chain responsibility, data privacy and security, and labor practices, Walmart is working to maintain its reputation as a responsible and ethical company.