Walmart is a global retailer with one of the most profitable business strategies on the planet. Walmart’s objective to offer the lowest prices to a diverse customer base has proven successful over several decades. Walmart began with a humble business model in the early 1960s. Sam Walton, original founder, wanted to provide people with the best prices possible. Sam Walton launched over a dozen locations to the public in the late 1960s. The profitable groundwork and strategy of every-day low prices spread rapidly through the next several decades. Throughout the 1990s, Walmart’s growth soared globally as they continued to facilitate a cost cutting strategy. America’s recent recession encouraged many low-income families to shop for Walmart’s low priced products. Walmart’s low prices may attract budgeting Americans, but their questionable operations are steering many others away. Walmart’s public perception is declining because of their negative organizational culture. Walmart’s employee wages are consistently below the American average, resulting in workers resorting to government aid. Discrimination lawsuits occur annually because of management’s stereotyping and poor leadership. Even Walmart’s ignorance to safe working conditions in other countries is beginning to surface in America’s media. Walmart’s leaders have attempted to address these issues, but ultimately failed to create a climate for change. Walmart’s future leadership must overcome their negative public perception by implementing Kotter’s Eight Step Approach to integrate a massive culture change.
Walmart employs their vision and mission statements to drive their business strategy. Walmart’s vision and mission are concise statements that employees can easily comprehend. Walmart Stores (2014) says their vision is to promote ownership of Walmart's ethical culture to their stakeholders. Their mission is to save people money to lead better lives” (p. 1). Walmart’s vision and mission statements have changed several times throughout its tenure as they adapted to consumer behavior and negative publicity. Walmart’s obsession to offer the lowest prices to customers has resulted in sacrifices to their vision. Walmart is not providing an ethical culture to all stakeholders because of their continuous attempts to cut costs. Walmart Stores (2014) says their stakeholders are associates, customers, NGOs, shareholders, and suppliers (p. 1). Complaints of discrimination, unethical management, ambiguity, and inconsistencies are contributing to the retailer’s hostile work environment. While Walmart may have positive and ethical sounding policies, codes of ethics, and beliefs, their implementation process is lacking. Walmart’s code of ethics encompasses three beliefs that provide insight into their core values. Walmart Ethics (2014) says their three guiding principles are to have respect for people, provide service to the customer, and strive for excellence (p. 1). Unfortunately, Walmart has only proven they focus on cutting costs and improving profits. Endless employee lawsuits paint a picture that contends with Walmart’s vision and code of ethics. Walmart’s public perception is taking a beating because of their unethical culture and poor leadership.
Walmart addressed their poor reputation by hiring Leslie Dach. Leslie Dach, aide to the previous Clinton administration, brought a certain skill-set to Walmart’s arsenal in 2006. Over his tenure, Leslie Dach decided to improve Walmart’s public perception by focusing on energy conservation, environmentally friendly packaging efforts, and donations. Unfortunately, these targeted initiatives only helped improve the mindsets of certain activist groups. According to Featherstone (2012), “Leslie Dach, hired by Walmart six years ago, has wooed pro-environment activist on the retail giant’s behalf, using environmental initiatives, as well as generous bipartisan campaign contributions and