Walmart-Business Ethics

I wanted to pick Walmart because my own company is very small and the policies are not very detailed yet, but will be as we grow in the light of what we learned in this class. AlsoWalmart is a national company with a lot of holes in their Ethical Policies, I thought I can learn from reviewing their mistakes.

Walmart has a code of ethics but it is not very effective that they keep being sued and loose. Their board of directors participate in the development and evaluation of the program. And the code of ethics rules are being played fairly even among high management jobs; we can see this when Walmart fired seven top managers because they failed to comply with code of ethics audit. Also Vice Chairman Tom Coughlin voluntarily quit in 2005 then was sued for spending company benefits for personal use.

Walmart published a website just to timely update public about their new developments, communicate standards and procedures in their policies. Walmart informs their employees, suppliers, and customers of their ethical standards by the employee handbooks and their website.

Their manuals, and written documents in the store show the appropriate behavior in a written way. Even though company publishes that there is open communication within the organization about procedures and activities; we have seen several proves of Walmart stopping union movements behind closed doors.

Walmart encourages the stakeholders to inform of the unethical behavior by calling the anonymous hotline, email, or simply inform the higher authorities personally. Walmart has been trying to improve the ethical issues constantly but they keep falling behind because there are several issues currently being decided at the court system like; unfair salaries and job distribution between male and female associates, working conditions, unions, disables employees, illegal immigrants, and low benefits. I think the biggest barrier for Walmart not being able to fully implement ethical codes in the company culture is being anti-union. We have seen examples of companies closing down or people getting fired for bring in people together for starting up a union. Without self-protection employees are afraid of defending themselves and asking for more. Reporting unethical behavior is also a problem related to this as well, they might be afraid of fighting with a big corporation or not have enough money to hire an attorney.

Since Walmart is strong they will do anything to protect their benefits, and the trials might take a long time, which means long battles of emotional and financial fight. Walmart also uses various techniques for higher sales volumes like ending the sale prices with .98. Depending on a study prices ending with .99 is preferred by %8 more people and they are trying to accomplish even more with .98. This is not unethical but still deceitful on purpose.

Another issue Walmart is deceiving public is about health care. They are advertising on TV as %94 of associates have health care, but the reality is only %52 is receiving it from Walmart, the rest is either not insured or receiving it from their spouses of government programs. Average large company workers receive health care from their employers is %64. Taxpayers are paying around one billion dollars for health insurance for Walmart employees. When they advertise as Walmart is saving an average family around $2400 a month, it is actually costing much more to the public.

This is triggering our health crisis. We expect them to be more realistic on their advertisements, and be more socially aware about what kind of a life quality they are offering their employees. They are recently being asked to offer at least %8 of their benefits as health care to their employees. Since Walmart is a strong company managers are protecting it by agreeing secret deals about the new laws, and changes.

One other unethical rule at Walmart the changing rules and regulations depending on the country. For example even though all of the countries that has Walmart want a union but only Germany has it. As a corporation they should be equal to all of their employees since almost every human being want a better life. Walmart has grown so much since the beginning of a small chain store. They were not able to make the adjustment of the size and the business ethics accordingly. After the law suits they have been forced to make some improvements. But they have hired savvy PR people. It was nothing more than an image scrub for them .

We are still waiting Walmart to be responsible of their employees, consumers and communities that they are in. As shown in their ethic audits they still have a lot of loopholes to improve. Their only concern should not be just to make profit and make small changes to get by. They are responsible of the community we live in.

A better future for Walmart will be created when they start paying attention to details, policy, culture and the need and desires of their employees.

References; http://ethics.walmartstores.com/StatementofEthics/MSGfromCEO.aspx http://www.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2005-01-28-walmart-ethics_x.htm http://walmartstores.com/AboutUs/295.aspx http://www.ufcw.org/press_room/ Business Ethics, 2011, Ferrell, Fraedrich, Ferrell