Don't Believe the Hype, Says Wal-Mart C.E.O.

TEANECK, N.J. - Despite what its critics say, Wal-Mart is a great place to work and is focused on being a valuable member of every community it serves, said Lee Scott, president and c.e.o. of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., yesterday at the closing of the retailer's analyst and investor meeting.

"When we asked our associates if Wal-Mart is the type of place they would recommend to their friends and family as a good place to work, more than 80 percent answered in the affirmative," Scott said. He pointed to recent improvements in the company's employee policies, including a new health care plan and increased starting pay at 1,200 U.S. stores.
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He also cited Wal-Mart's stance on employee and supplier diversity. "If you're interested in diversity, we're the company to talk to."

Being a good environmental steward will also continue to be on Wal-Mart's agenda, Scott said. He noted that the company's giant size and scale make it an ideal partner for environmentally driven suppliers.

"We can make more of a difference in the environment than any company in the world," he said, whether it be through the types of containers it uses, its efficient consumption of electricity, LED lighting in refrigerated cases, or transportation.

But looking out for the environment is also smart business, Scott added. "Because this isn't an altruistic endeavor, we're driving costs out of our system. These are things that have nothing to do with giving money to charitable causes."

Scott also called the retailer's $4 generic prescription drug program "one of the coolest things we've done in a long time. Our team allowed us to take the first-mover position on this. So we're first in the customers' minds, but we're also first in the minds of politicians and other people who we're trying to influence to allow us to continue to grow."

In other Wal-Mart news, the retailer said it has launched "the new and improved," its e-commerce Web site.

"As our company's most visible and accessible store, the new and improved underscores our commitment to enhance the overall customer experience -- both online and in our stores -- and also supports the evolution of the Wal-Mart brand," said John Fleming, e.v.p. and chief marketing officer for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., in a statement. "Given that half of Wal-Mart store shoppers with Internet access also visit, our enhanced online store signals a big step in our transformation to become more relevant to our customers -- especially in how they shop for quality, information and value at Wal-Mart."

The site redesign is a sweeping overhaul that touches 1,000 categories and more than 2 million pages at, with new designs of the Home, Apparel, and Electronics departments.
-- Jenny McTaggart
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