This speech by Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott is drawing a lot attention from social researchers. Wal-Mart, of course, has been involved in many controversies, and is not currently represented in (for example) the Domini or Calvert social indexes. But the speech is notable for its ambition, its scope, and its detailed analysis. A brief excerpt:
"Our environmental goals at Wal-Mart are simple and straightforward:
- To be supplied by 100% renewal energy.
- To create zero waste.
- To sell products that sustain our resources and environment."
Can't be much clearer, or more ambitious, than that. Scott makes the business case for these goals, pointing out that all waste has a cost.
Although my instinct is to look at deeds vs. words, I have to say that the speech strikes me as more than a PR piece. On first reading it looks like the beginning of a meaningful effort by the company to address some difficult issues.
Others are not so impressed: Op-Ed columnist Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post offers this harsh critique of the speech and its context.
[10/27 Update: There is additional news on this today.]