WAL-MART SEARCHES FOR ETHICS

You'll be thrilled to learn that Wal-Mart has been taking bold steps to spiff up its sordid image!

You’ll be thrilled to learn that Wal-Mart has been taking bold steps to spiff up its sordid image!

Not such steps as paying decent wages and offering good benefits, mind you, nor steps to stop selling billions-of-dollars worth of sweatshop products every year, nor steps to stop using predatory tactics to crush local businesses when it moves into an area. Instead, Wal-Mart’s boldness is in the area of PR flimflammery.

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In December, a new group calling itself Working Families for Wal-Mart suddenly sprang up. Was this a spontaneous, grassroots uprising by employees and supporters of the retailing giant? No, it’s a front group created and funded by the corporation itself – for the sole purpose of praising itself.

Also, in the past year, there has been a rash of bloggers ranting against Wal-Mart’s many critics and defending the corporate behemoth. Are their blogs simply the product of the freewheeling and fiercely-independent internet spirit? Uh-uh. These bloggers are routinely spoonfed talking points and language by a right-wing operative of the Edelman Company, one of Wal-Mart’s PR firms. Even though many of the bloggers end up using the exact same sentences and so-called “facts” provided by Wal-Mart’s online operative, they commonly fail to mention any connection between their rants and the corporation.

It’s hard to develop an ethical image if you’re using unethical tactics. So, one wonders what Wal-Mart’s newest hire will make of all of this. In March, the company said it was seeking applicants for a new position: Director of Global Ethics. The posting says that candidates must have “an impeccable reputation for integrity” and be able to lead “a global ethics strategy.”

This is Jim Hightower saying… Right there is Wal-Mart’s problem. One’s ethics is not a strategy – it’s an ingrained virtue. And no amount of strategic image-making can cover up this corporation’s obvious lack of ethics.

Sources:
“Wal-Mart seeks ethics chief to mend its image,” Austin American-Statesman, March 3, 2006.
“Wal-Mart Bloggers in P.R. Campaign,” The New York Times, March 7, 2006.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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