By Kathleen McLaughlin, Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Walmart Inc.; President, Walmart Foundation
Walmart has long taken a shared value, whole-system approach to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Through our ESG strategies, we aim to do more than operate responsibly and mitigate business risk; we want to create value for business by better serving our customers and stakeholders and helping to transform related societal systems (e.g., food systems, workforce development systems) for more equitable and sustainable outcomes. Events of the past year — the COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, rising income inequality and intensifying climate and ecosystem decline — underscore the relevance of our shared value philosophy.
While these events challenged us all, they reinforced our desire to accelerate our omnichannel transformation and commit to becoming a regenerative company — seeking to fulfill our customer mission in a way that restores, renews and replenishes nature and humanity.
This year, our ESG reporting includes a series of briefs covering Walmart’s priority ESG issues in a new, “living” digital format as well as our FY21 ESG summary and data tables. The briefs will be refreshed online periodically, providing our stakeholders with timely information. We have updated our list of priority issues based on recent stakeholder engagement, reflecting stakeholder expectations, relevance to our business, and Walmart’s ability to make a difference in four broad themes of Opportunity, Sustainability, Community and Ethics & Integrity. Each issue brief articulates Walmart’s ESG impact thesis including disclosures regarding our aspirations for shared value creation, our strategies, key metrics and facts regarding progress (with reference to our public commitments, SASB, TCFD, CDP, GRI and U.N. SDGs) and challenges.
Key highlights include:
- COVID-19 response: Prioritizing the well-being of our associates, customers and communities, we altered operating practices (including providing a COVID emergency leave policy that The New York Times editorial board said “set a standard” for the private sector), expanded pickup services from 1,500 to 3500 sites and administered COVID-19 tests and vaccines. Together with the Walmart Foundation, we also donated $43+ million in cash and in-kind for COVID response.
- Inclusive opportunity: In the U.S., we provided an average of $19.50 an hour in total compensation to hourly associates; promoted more than 300,000 people, with 46% of promotions going to people of color; and began twice-yearly disclosure of diversity data. We established Shared Value Networks to help eradicate systemic racism through business initiatives and, alongside the Walmart Foundation, committed $100 million over five years to support philanthropic efforts through the Center for Racial Equity.
- Climate and nature: Walmart made CDP’s ‘A List’ for climate action. We sourced an estimated 36% of our electricity needs from renewable energy. Through Project Gigaton, 3,100 suppliers reported a cumulative 416 million metric tons (MMT) of avoided emissions since 2017. We set 2040 as our target date to achieve zero emissions in our global operations and committed to help protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030.
- Governance: We refreshed our Code of Conduct and related policies to further foster a culture of accountability, transparency and trust. We also enhanced disclosure of our board diversity, digital citizenship and public policy engagement.
The challenges facing business and society require collective action from us all. The pandemic demonstrated how small but widespread changes in individual behavior can produce large-scale, positive effects. We believe businesses can be part of the solution and, as a stakeholder in Walmart, your collaboration on this journey is key to meeting the challenges of our time. We look forward to facilitating positive change, together.