In his annual letter to Amazon shareholders published last month, CEO Jeff Bezos challenged his billionaire peers (“You know who you are,” he taunted) “to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage. Do it! Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. It’s a kind of competition that will benefit everyone.”
In perhaps a less caustic tone, Walmart president Doug McMillon laid out his company’s Environmental, Social and Governance Report this week. The report “responds to stakeholder requests for a more concise and focused view of our priority topics—how we define them and the long-term strategy to manage them; our aspirational goals and targets; and progress to date,” it reads.
“Earlier this year, we announced a plan to reduce plastic waste in the packaging for our private brands,” McMillon wrote. “By 2025, we aim to use 100% recyclable, reusable, or industrially compostable packaging for our private brands in the U.S.”
It’s worth noting that Amazon, which has built up quite the private label business, shipped 5 billion items last year. Not only is that a lot of cardboard, but a lot of packaging material.
In a more defensive crouch, McMillon says that the company is investing in its employees “through wages along with better educational opportunities, benefits and training,” citing the company’s Walmart Academy that has trained 800,000 employees. He also mentioned Walmart has “expanded our parental-leave and adoption policies and raised starting wages again.” The report outlines how the average wage of a full-time employee is $14.26 per hour, or about $29,660 per year working 40 hours per week—though no word on how many of the company’s 1.5 million workforce is full-time. The company’s executives, however, earn an average of $175,000 per year.
The report houses several mini-reports, like its Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Report highlighting the company’s culture. One of the many knocks against tech companies is the lack of diversity, from workers up to the board of directors. Walmart’s board—made up of nine men and three women, and “two of our directors are of racially or ethnically diverse backgrounds,” McMillion wrote—comes up slightly short in that area compared to Amazon’s, which has six men and five women, with at least two directors having racially or ethnically diverse backgrounds.
Inside Walmart’s house, 56% of its employees are white, compared to 21% employees who are African-American and 15% employees who are Hispanic. Additionally, the company says that women make up 55% of its associates, 43% of management and 30% of officers, while people of color make up 44% of its associates, 32% of management and 20% of its officers.
The 56-year-old retailer’s report is chock-full of corporate strategy; whether they execute it remains to be seen.