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In recent years, Wal Mart has come under intense criticisms. Its major critics have been Christian groups and labor organizations in relation to the company’s practices. In the long run, the company has ended having bad public relations. This is a matter of concern to the management. As a matter of fact, there are various issues that need to be looked at for sustainability.
Bad public relations affect the company’s performance in various ways. Although there might be some misconceptions in relation to the company’s policies, there is need to ensure that such issues are clearly addressed. This will make it easy for various stakeholders to understand the company’s position in a better way.
In recent years, several labor unions have argued that the company does not allow its workers/employees to become their members (Frank 5). They have further implied that Wal Mart has a very strict anti-union stance. This means that workers cannot join trade unions without any victimization. For instance, in 2005, the company was negatively portrayed by labor unions through media campaigns (Kabel 7). An example of such negative media campaigns is the Wal-Mart Watch advert.
This advert was sponsored by the service employees union (Kabel 12). In addition, there was the wake up Wal- Mart advert by the food and commercial union. Wal-Mart has also been criticized for locking night shift workers in the shopping malls. This case was compounded by an employee who waited for hours before he could get any help after crushing an ankle (Frank 15). The worker could not get any medical attention because all the exits were locked.
Various organizations have argued that this is the cheapest practice that the company has ever engaged in as far as risk management is concerned (Stilgoe 32). Furthermore, this is a very draconian working environment. Wal- Mart is being accused of paying its employees low and unacceptable wages. Most people believe that the company is getting away with such a practice and this is unacceptable.
Although these payments are above the poverty levels, the company is being pressurized to at least increase its wages. Because of this, the company’s competitors and other organizations are saying that there is an impact to workers wages when it enters a given market. In this case, the company can displace other high wage retail jobs.
This therefore becomes an economic loss to most workers. In addition, disposable income is greatly affected and this reduces their purchasing power. On the other hand, the company reduces a country’s employment by 2.7% (Meekel 16). This is in relation to its store openings as far as retail employment is concerned.
These critics have further implied that Wal- Marts entry to a given market makes other retailers to change their wage policies and practices. In this case, it depresses wages and salaries. In addition, the company is believed to displace good and better paying jobs. Jobs that have been eliminated pay 18% more than what the company offers in a metropolitan area. Generally, merchandising workers wages are reduced by more than 0.8 % (Meekel 24).
Wal- Mart is also being accused of exposing employees to dangerous health hazards. This means that employees are subjected to poor working conditions. According to them (critics), the company is big enough to ensure that health standards and practices are adhered to (Barbaro 19). To push their case forward, they have made reference to the company’s reports that attest to the fact that it has extensive health problems in its directly sourced factories.
Apart from these arguments and accusations; there is a feeling that Wal- Marts entry in a given market hurts small businesses. This is because; there is a reduction in net employment more so by small retailers. As a matter of fact, this increases the chances of job destruction in case there is an exit from the market.
From the Wake- up Wal- Mart media campaign, the company has been accused of making taxpayers to suffer because of its poor pay and low wages (Barbaro 34). This means that public assistance as a result of the company’s policies makes different states to lose a lot of money.
Various communities feel that the company does not consult them in their expansion programs. In this case, they argue that Wal- Mart builds various stores in different towns without involving to residents (Barbaro 41). The company is also facing various gender and sexual orientation law suits. It is alleged that female employees are discriminated against as far as promotions and pay are concerned. This is a very big law suit considering that the company employs more than 1.5 million women (Stilgoe 23).
The company has received various grievances in relation to employee-employer relationships. There is an unfavorable relationship that makes it hard for employees to carry out their duties more effectively. This affects their productivity and ability to become more creative and innovative (Barbaro 19).
All these arguments and accusations have in one way or the other affected the company’s public relations. As a matter of fact, the company needs to rectify the bad public relations it has received. In addition, they can still turn this public relations mess into a more positive public image. As much as the company has launched an effective media campaign, working families for Wal- Mart, it needs to intensify such campaigns to correct its image. This will give it an opportunity to tell its own side of the story (Sellers 21).
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In this case, people will be able to understand what is going on in the company instead of reading stories from the media. There should be more intensive counter criticisms through effective public relations. As a matter of fact, the company has a PR website, walmartfacts.com, which needs to be made more effective. Through this website, the company can be able to engage various stakeholders and come up with the best way forward.
Wal- Mart needs to engage the services of a competent PR firm that will interact with stakeholders on a personal level. This will give them a chance to express themselves in relation to the company’s policies. In addition, the company will be able to explain these concerns before they are taken advantage of by its critics.
As far as the company’s health standards and working conditions are concerned, they can invite people to visit its headquarters and stores. This will enable the company to interact well with various parties and come up with a solution to such a problem.
The company needs to come up with good health coverage plans that will cover more employees (Basker 9). These plans should be well marketed and publicized to attract more employees and ensure that they are taken care of. This will correct the bad public relations that it has received in relation to health standards. Online interaction should also be enhanced to improve its relations with shoppers and customers. This will enable the company to get rid of any misconceptions in advance.
Because it has been hurt by bad public relations, the company should increase its public relations and media team. This will ensure that any concerns and bad public relations are attended to without straining its existing team. In the long run, it will attract the best talent in public relations and improve its image (Basker 27). Through these recommendations, the company will be in a better position to improve its bad public relations for sustainability. This is because bad public relations can affect its business and market position.
Bad public relations affect the company’s performance in various ways. Although there might be some misconceptions in relation to the companies policies, there is need to ensure that such issues are clearly addressed. This will make it easy for various stakeholders to understand the company’s position in a better way. All these arguments and accusations have in one way or the other affected its public relations.
As a matter of fact, the company needs to rectify the bad public relations it has received. In addition, they can still turn this public relations mess into a more positive public image. As much as the company has launched an effective media campaign, working families for Wal- Mart, it needs to intensify such campaigns to correct its image. This will give it an opportunity to tell its own side of the story.
Barbaro, M. It’s not Only about Price at Wal-Mart. New York: The New York Times, 2007.
Basker, E. Job Creation or Destruction? Labor-Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion. Missouri: University of Missouri, 2002. Print.
Frank, T. A. A Brief History of Wal-Mart. The Washington Monthly, 2006.
Kabel, M. Wal-Mart, Critics Slam Each Other on Web. Washington: The Washington Post, 2006.
Meekel, D. Wal-Mart Flacks Detail Plan – Again, Lebanon Daily News, 2005. Print.
Sellers, J. Deliver Us from Wal-Mart? Christianity Today, 2007.
Stilgoe, J. Wal-Mart Giant Can Be Tamed. The Boston Globe, 2006.