The events of 2020, from the Covid-19 pandemic to the Black Lives Matter movement to the forest fires in the west, have put pressure on brands to be more than just suppliers of goods and services and the largest in the world Retailers are trying to heed this call.
"When you are as tall as we are, there is an opportunity – and I would say a responsibility – to be our size, our size and our power as a driving force," said William White, CMO of Walmart, during his address at this year's ANA Masters of Marketing Conference.
White said Walmart's goal, which the company calls "delivering shared value," is to "go beyond" what customers expect from the retailer, such as affordable, quality products.
"How we have delivered shared value over the past six decades has changed as our customers' needs have changed and the world has changed," he said.
Effects of Hurricane Katrina
White cited the company's response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 not only as an example of the retailer's previous efforts to make the world a better place, but also as a turning point.
After the devastating natural disaster, he discussed how Walmart coordinated its emergency center with its logistics team to deliver critical supplies to first responders and victims when the government couldn't. White also noted that Walmart was the first retailer to open its stores in the flood zone to ensure community members had access to essential items.
That initial response served as a rough blueprint for how Walmart has come to help the communities hit by the wildfires in the west, White said. The discounter's experience with Hurricane Katrina was a turning point that helped him see the positive impact it could have if needed.
White said it was two months after Walmart's response that its executives were considering how the retailer could continue to make the country and the world a better place, leading to former CEO Scott Lee's 2005 speech on leadership in the 21st century. Century and "like Walmart could use our size and reach to become friends and ally for all." "
"We recognize that being a good steward of the environment and the community and being an efficient and profitable company are not mutually exclusive," said White. "Lee actually said they were one and the same."
At that point, Walmart went on the record with advanced environmental goals, White said. To build on that, current CEO Doug McMillion recently committed the company to zero emissions by 2040 and to protect, manage, and restore at least 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030.
Combating Diversity, Justice and Inclusion
More importantly, White said, "2020 will also be known for the continued pursuit of racial justice and the fight against systematic racism."
The Black Lives movement inspired Walmart, according to White.
"It was our job to do more, both internally and externally, to help the country become a more just and just society," he said.
In early June, for example, Walmart announced that the company and the Walmart Foundation would donate approximately $ 100 million to create a new center for racial equality, which in turn would address issues related to finance, health care, education and criminal justice.
In its own business practice, Walmart will provide minority-owned companies with greater economic access while improving recruitment efforts to ensure that formerly incarcerated applicants are properly considered for jobs when they rejoin the workforce.