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Ethics at WalMart

Charles Fishman, author of The WalMart Effect, is blogging at FCNow, FastCompany magazine's blog, about WalMart.

He writes,

"Wal-Mart is currently advertising to fill two new and fascinating jobs at the Bentonville home office: director of global ethics, and senior director of stakeholder engagement

The ethics job got a burst of media attention last week — Wal-Mart's director of global ethics "plays a critical strategic role by promoting ethical behavior globally, facilitating proper decision-making, and ensuring that ethics is embedded into key business processes." The posting makes it clear the job will have its bare-knuckled Wal-Mart moments. The right candidate must be "able and willing to take a difficult or unpopular position if necessary," and the right person will maintain "rationality in tense interpersonal situations."

Sounds like one of those jobs on a par with Cabinet Secretaries jobs in Presidential administrations.  Lot's of confrontation, stress and short shelf life.


The second job also sounds problematic.  Here's Fishman's description.

The much more interesting — and all new — job at Wal-Mart is the senior director of stakeholder engagement. This person, the job description says, "will help pioneer a new model of how Wal-Mart works with outside stakeholders resulting in fundamental changes in how the company does business. ... In looking for a new director of stakeholder engagement, Wal-Mart says its senior executives have spent the last year talking to "key global stakeholders to better understand their concerns, the company’s impact on the world and society, and what leadership means for Wal-Mart in the 21st century."

Fishman's thesis - you can read the article that inspired the book, here - is that WalMart operates at a level of size and sophistication that no other company is doing. Therefore its effect is unique in the history of business.  You can read an excerpt of the book here.

WalMart gets a lot of heat becasue of its size and dominance.  It will be interesting to see if two people in two new positions can make a difference.

This is just the first of Fishman's FastCompany blog entries on WalMart.  Here are links to some more.

Is WalMart's Factory Inspectons Program a Fraud?

What would you ask CEO Lee Scott?

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