May 28, 2021 - News

Proposals pressure Walmart on social issues

Illustration of a protest sign with the Walmart logo on it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Walmart shareholders will vote Wednesday on eight proposals — from normal corporate housekeeping to social issues and transparency.

The big picture: Now more than ever, businesses like Walmart are under pressure from consumers, employees and shareholders to address social and political issues.

  • These expectations have risen over the past several years, but were accelerated by the pandemic as trust in government declined.

Why it matters: Employees look to their company leaders for cues on how to behave at work and in their daily lives.

  • Walmart, which employs 2.3 million people globally and close to 1.6 million in the U.S., has the power of influence.

The backdrop: The following proposals are up for vote during next week's annual meeting:

The bottom line: These proposals will likely be voted down.

  • Walmart's board of directors recommended shareholders vote against all five, giving detailed reasoning in its Proxy statement.

Yes, but: Walmart's cadre of corporate social responsibility programs have become a more central part of its company narrative in recent years. Think: Sustainability, community relations, diversity and inclusion.

  • Through its Walmart Foundation, the company donated $1.4 billion to many of those causes in fiscal 2020.
  • The company and foundation committed $100 million to create a new center on racial equity last year.
  • Walmart also told Axios it works with a variety of third-party advisory councils for outside opinions on issues, such as their human rights statement.

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