Blog: Wal-Mart's commercial conscience
Leonie Barrie | 26 October 2005
Wal-Mart, it seems, is finally waking up to the sweatshop issue – and many other areas in which it has been open to criticism, including health care, wages and the environment. Chief executive officer Lee Scott has told workers the company plans to take up a range of initiatives over the next few years, including reducing greenhouse gases at its stores, offering health care coverage, calling on the US government to raise the nation's minimum wage – and making suppliers be more accountable for factory standards.
It could well be that the timing of Wal-Mart's announcement is simply intended to build on the praise and goodwill generated by its relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. But could it also be a coincidence that suddenly discovering a conscience comes at a time when the retailer is embroiled in a number of wage and environmental lawsuits?
Not least of these is an ongoing lawsuit filed by the International Labor Rights Fund on behalf of apparel workers in Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Nicaragua and Swaziland that effectively makes Wal-Mart legally responsible for the welfare of workers at its suppliers’ factories.
Wal-Mart is also in the process of trying to broaden its appeal to a wider range of customers – not just those who have remained loyal to the company’s low prices – particularly in the fashion field where it sees opportunities for growth. And these consumers may be wary of shifting their loyalties to a retailer with such a bad track record. The company has admitted that change is vital if it is to build a 21st century business...so perhaps it is at least being honest enough to admit that its motivation is commercial rather than having found a conscience.
Over the past month, Donald Trump and his team failed to offer any clear plan to ensure Americans would "Buy American, Hire American" - while the British government's attempts to clarify the specifics...
The Bangladesh government was forced to respond late last week to pressure over its crackdown on labour activists after a number of global brands and retailers, including H&M and Inditex announced pla...
Fresh from their disappointment at seeing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal abandoned last month with an executive order by President Donald Trump, the US apparel and footwear sector...
With the ultimate aim of ensuring all the cotton in its products is sourced sustainably, value clothing retailer Primark is adamant that having a business model focused on offering the lowest prices o...
- Digitalisation and data to disrupt supply chains
- 3D CAD comes of age
- EU eyes mandatory due diligence for apparel supply
- Unlocks for the future fashion sourcing landscape
- What TTIP might mean for US, EU textiles & apparel
- Li & Fung forms supply chain partnership with PVH
- Big data to help US firms improve clothing fit
- Levi Strauss and ILO probe Cambodia factory death
- US Q4 in brief – G-III Apparel, Finish Line
- Labour rights risk Bangladesh EU trade benefits?
- Central and East Europe Report Package
- Central America strategic sourcing review - a focus on Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras
- Southeast Asia strategic sourcing review – a focus on Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar
- Outdoor performance apparel 2016: A broader perspective
- REPORT BUNDLE: Africa-Med, Southeast Asia and Central America strategic sourcing pack