A major part of a company’s brand value, soft power, and appeal is its culture. This refers to how the company deals with its employees, customers, and partners. Since companies are known for how they deal with these entities, their culture is what sets them apart. One of the constituents of a company’s culture is its code of ethics. There are a couple of reasons why an organization makes a code of ethics. These reasons are a mix of genuine concern for all parties involved and precautionary measures against controversies and bad publicity. These ethics are a set of rules or guidelines that advise employees how to behave with external entities in different situations. In a world where organizations are often closely scrutinized, these ethics and codes of conduct have a crucial role to play. In this article we are going to learn about the ethics of Walmart.
Walmart- Integrity Builds Trust
Walmart is one of the world’s biggest retailers with one of the largest revenues in the world, counting into the half-trillion mark. The Walton family that owns Walmart emphasizes hard work, diligence, and philanthropy. These values all constitute a key part of Walmart’s business- providing service to customers and buyers. For a retail giant like Walmart, this service is vital to maintaining its popularity and warding off the usual hullabaloos surrounding powerful organizations. To that end, Walmart is very concerned about how it treats the average customer. All these ideas form the basis for Walmart’s code of ethics.
Walmart- Code of Ethics: Core Beliefs
The main idea and thought-process behind Walmart’s code of ethics can be narrowed down to four core values:
- Respect for the Individual
Walmart realized that their main business is driven by individuals working collectively. Be it their hundreds of thousands of employees performing various roles or their vast number of partners, associates, and suppliers that supplement its operations. Respecting people and their opinions, listening to their concerns and opinions is what makes a good business and Walmart has certainly not remained stubborn.
- Service to the Customer
What is Walmart without its millions of customers? Walmart realizes its role in making our lives easier by bringing us whatever we desire. This forms the backbone of Walmart’s operations, and their legions of employees adhere to this value to the letter.
- Strive for Excellence
Walmart is a professional company with hundreds of thousands of employees, all supplemented by the latest technology. All these resources work to achieve a single goal- excellence. In a world dominated by Economic Darwinism, the perfect service or product is often expected and paid for. Working towards excellence allows them to maintain the competitive edge afforded to them by their brand value. It is this that sets them apart.
- Act with Integrity
A company needs to follow both its own rules as well as the rules of the land. Also important are good morals and an honest day’s work. All of Walmart’s operations are expected to be ethical and clean. Its employees are expected to be kind and courteous while dealing with company matters, and the board of directors is expected to put the company above everything else and avoid conflicts of interest.
Code of Ethics- People and Application
The Walmart code of ethics applies to all Walmart employees regardless of designation. It also expects all its partners, suppliers, and service providers to adhere to the same code in all their dealings with the company. They accept and expect only the highest standards of business from all associated external entities. Employees who breach the code of ethics may be reprimanded or even dismissed from their positions. Walmart treats people with respect and expects employees and board members to do the same and respect company culture and its ethics. All employees must be cautious while representing the company as their dealings might have a direct or indirect bearing on Walmart. They are hence required to maintain the integrity of the company and adhere to the code of ethics.
Walmart’s ethics policy broadly governs employees on the following grounds.
Making Ethical Decisions
Walmart wants its associates to take ethics into consideration whenever they deal with their work. All employees are requested to adhere to the code of ethics while in doubt. They are required to contact their managers or officers whenever these ethics come into question. Businesses run on decisions, most of them are taken in a split second as and when required. Walmart’s ethics policy calls for an ethical approach to these decisions. The ethics policy calls for employees to make rational decisions and adhere to the code while making decisions about the following.
- Conflicts of Interest: Employees are required to think twice before dealing with or working for Walmart’s competitors.
- Financial Investments: Walmart Employees are discouraged from investing in a competitor or even in a Walmart supplier if it might hamper their relationship with the company.
- Gifts: Employees should also be cautious while accepting a gift from any government organization, employee, officer, or even a supplier.
- Friendships, relationships, and familial ties: Associates are not allowed to arrange for a relative’s employment in the company through unethical means. They are requested to refrain from starting romantic relationships with fellow employees and associates.
Creating a Safe Place to Work
For retailers like Walmart, safety and trust are paramount to attracting both customers and employees. This involves creating and promoting a safe working environment for all workers. This part of Walmart’s ethics code governs matters relating to harassment, hiring, violence, or intoxication. This also means that employees know their rights concerning standards, payments, salaries, and work. Walmart does not employ underage associates and follows all the laws governing labor rights and employment. Employees are encouraged to contact their superiors if these laws are breached or in case of any unethical treatment of employees. Employees are also required to carry all the legitimate documents and verify the same from suppliers and other associates.
Selling Safe Food and Products
Quality, especially that of perishable items like fruits and veggies, is of paramount importance to Walmart. The same can be said for products that might contain toxic or hazardous substances or flammable spirits. The safety and sustainability of its products come first, and Walmart employees are requested to immediately inform their superiors in case of a breach in this guideline. They are also requested to maintain all procedural hygiene and cleanliness while handling foodstuffs and other products. This is especially important concerning the current covid-19 pandemic. Walmart maintains the relevant temperatures for hot and frozen food accordingly and requests its employees to take all necessary precautions. Also included in Walmart’s ethics policy are environment protection and sustainable development standards.
- Healthcare Standards: Employees are expected to follow all procedures and precautionary measures while handling drugs or medicines. These rules also govern the sale of drugs and adhere to patient confidentiality standards.
- Environment Standards: Walmart employees are encouraged to segregate and recycle, follow environment safety protocols and report ethical breaches of the code pertaining to the environment to superiors. They are also taught to handle hazardous wastes.
Walmart believes that honest work is paid over in full. It follows all the rules and regulations with respect to consumer protection and takes a firm stance against unethical methods stemming from anti-competitive practices. The rules and ethics relating to fair competition are some of Walmart’s most critical ones and generally include the following:
Bribes: It is mandatory for all employees to adhere to national and international anti-corruption standards and regulations. They are required to comply and cooperate with the authorities on such matters. They are strictly refrained from accepting bribes or bribing others and must report such instances to the relevant higher authorities immediately.
Fraud or Money Laundering: Walmart’s policy on using gift cards or coupons for unethical reasons is set in stone. Associates have to report suspicious behavior in this regard. Anti-fraud and anti-money laundering policies are a key part of consumer protection, and Walmart upholds these to the fullest.
Data, Privacy, and Technology: Walmart’s customers put their faith in the company and trust them with confidential personal information. Walmart employees have to respect their customers’ boundaries and not exploit this information. With the large-scale use of data and technology, the chances of rogue elements misusing the same are considerable. Walmart encourages employees to reach out to prevent the misuse of data. Transparency to customers in regards to their data and how it is being used is also high on Walmart’s consumer protection priorities. Walmart employees are also advised to never tamper with consumer data or information and never conceal any information pertaining to a business transaction from a customer or supplier.
Misuse of Confidential Information: Walmart, like most businesses, runs on information. This information may include trade secrets, suppliers, procedures, quality standards, and pricing. Walmart has high standards for confidentiality, and employees are refrained from using inside information for their own external benefit. These policies also govern and seek to prevent insider trading in the company.
Protection of company property: These protections apply to all of Walmart’s machines, gadgets, inventory, and products. Walmart employees are told to report any misuse or damage to their inventory. Walmart recognizes the need to work efficiently and save money, and so these policies allow the company to do just that.
Why does Walmart need an ethics policy or code of conduct?
Walmart functions on three pillars: Customers, trust, and employees. In a behemoth like Walmart, any failure on their part may lead to massive controversies and scandals, which may impact their business and brand value. Walmart’s code helps its associates make logical decisions with the company’s best interests at heart. It also acts as a contingency guide on what to do next in certain situations. It provides the company and its employees with a proper chain of command in crisis time. This makes sure that the company is always on the right side of the law and remains profitable. Walmart’s code helps the company to:
- Build Trust with Associates: Walmart keeps its employees happy and satisfied by creating a safer and more accepting place to work.
- Build Trust in Customers: Their ethical standards help to satisfy the quality demands of customers and provide excellent customer service.
- Build Trust in the business: Walmart’s code of ethics attracts partners and suppliers as they are sure to honor their code in all their dealings.
Ethically Speaking (Conclusion)
Walmart has all its bases covered concerning employee behavior, standards of business, ethics, customer satisfaction, and legality. It is one of the largest retailers in the world, with stores in more than 24 countries. Walmart’s code of ethics is a great example of how modern corporations should draft regulations and protections for their businesses. All areas of their business adhere to their golden standards of service, quality, and customer care, and the company is still going strong after so many years.