How Walmart plans to win on trust and transparency

Date : 07 November 2016

Walmart has outlined a new roadmap for its sustainability and community agenda, including new commitments around sourcing and packaging.

Aiming to become the most trusted retailer

Speaking at the Net Impact Conference earlier this month, Walmart’s President and CEO, Doug McMillon, detailed several initiatives which are designed to help Walmart’s desire to become the most trusted retailer, a goal which was recently outlined as part of a broader four-point strategic plan. Beyond helping its shoppers through offering low prices and innovating to help them save time, it is also looking to earn their trust though its actions, noting that as the world becomes more transparent, it wants consumers to like what they see when they look at Walmart.

Specific commitments include:

  • For all private label packaging to be 100% recyclable by 2025
  • Doubling the sales of locally grown produce in the US by 2025
  • Expanding sustainable sourcing to cover 20 key commodities, including bananas, grapes, coffee and tea
  • Working with suppliers and its own private label products to remove certified synthetic colours and artificial flavours where customers don’t expect them, and reduce sodium, added sugars and saturated fat where possible
  • Expanding sourcing of commodities produced with zero net deforestation
  • Achieving zero waste to landfill in key markets by 2025, including the US, UK, Japan and Canada
  • Powering half of the company’s energy from renewable sources as part of a plan to achieve science-based target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Investing in its people

Walmart is also taking a leadership role in calling for a broader industry push to ensure retailers are employers of choice. This builds upon its $2.7bn investment over the past two years in education, wages and training for store colleagues in the US. Walmart is joining the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, promoting the ethical recruitment and treatment of workers in the global retail supply chain. It is also focusing on creating paths for career advancement, with 250,000 colleagues expected to graduate from its new Academy training program by the end of 2017.

Environmental and social sustainability rising up the agenda

While it is over ten years since then President and CEO, Lee Scott, with his landmark speech ‘Twenty First Century Leadership’ started to define Walmart’s role in terms of environmental sustainability and community involvement, the issues and goals have remained an important part of Walmart’s agenda. However, under the leadership of Doug McMillon over the last two years, these have been brought to the forefront, particularly as technology is providing consumers with a new lens on the transparency of organisations, and as these issues become more important for key shopper groups, including millennials.

Stewart Samuel, Program Director, IGD Canada
Based in Canada, Stewart heads up all of IGD's research and coverage on Walmart globally. He is also responsible for shaping IGD's research program across North America. Contact Stewart at [email protected] for further insight on the region.