November 16, 2015
It’s been 10 years since Walmart set out on its quest to become a leader in sustainability, beginning with three bold, aspirational goals. This is the first of a two-part series that takes stock of the company and its progress, as well as its sustainability journey over the past decade. Part one looks at the origins of Walmart’s strategy. Part two assesses the company’s progress.
On Oct. 23, 2005, Lee Scott, at the time CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., spoke from the auditorium of the company’s Home Office in Bentonville, Ark., the first time a company speech had been livecast to every one of the company’s stores, clubs and distribution centers.
Scott acknowledged that “we are in uncharted territory as a business,” thanks to the company’s massive size and scope. “If we were a country, we would be the 20th largest in the world. If Walmart were a city, we would be the fifth largest in America.” He also acknowledged, although not explicitly, that his company had been under fire on a range of topics, from employee wages and healthcare to community and environmental impacts. Nearly every interest group, it seemed, could point to something wrong with Walmart.
But Scott also had recently gotten a glimpse of what was right with Walmart, and a vision of what a leadership company looked like.