Good news from the Wal-Mart world: it appears they’re more serious about adopting substantial corporate ethics strategies than previously thought. Wal-Mart has issued a new job posting for a corporate executive business ethics point person to work for the world’s largest retailer and who…
…will oversee a team of about ten staffers inside Wal-Mart’s Global Ethics Office, which the retailer created in 2004 to “advance the company’s ethical, values-based culture,” according to the job posting. The job spec also details a veritable laundry list of responsibilities, from developing a global ethics strategy to “policy refinement” to overseeing an ethics hotline, where employees can report violations of corporate policies.
Heavy hitters like Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins to Fmr. Fed Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan are being tossed around as possible candidates.
Our friends over at Wal-Mart Watch are applauding the recent moves by the company to change its benefits programs such as agreeing to carry the “Plan B” morning after pill in all of its pharmacies. However, as much positive news that is hitting the media about Wal-Mart’s move toward corproate reform, there is still much to be done and many red-flags around the PR campaign they are pushing so fervently.
The overall effort by Wal-Mart to put ethics back into its corporate culture is a tremendous move, though not surprising given the bludgeoning its received publicy, both in the courts and in the media. The deeper question here is how this new vision is carried out. Its up to Wal-Mart whether a serious change is afoot or if all of this is “a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.”
“The key is not just to have the role, but what you do with it once you have it,” says Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.
So whether its a token postion created mostly for the press or an actual attempt to dramatically change company standards and outlook is yet to be seen. Keep your eyes on the latest news coming out of Bentonville, AK at Wal-Mart Watch.