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2005-06-04
Bentonville, AR. Wal-Mart CEO Spills Drink On Wife's Dress

Stop the presses! Wal-Mart may have major legal and ethical problems, but the company's CEO felt compelled to tell thousands of shareholders at their Annual Meeting yesterday -- not about the company's legal battles from its own associates, not about the company's hundreds of battles in local communities -- but instead about a battle with his wife that almost caused him to miss the big annual event. Lee Scott, Wal-Mart CEO, joked in his opening speech about the tenuousness of his continued employment at the retailer. Recently rumors have been circulating that Scott's job might be rolled back. Scott said he was suprised that he was able to be with the shareholders. "Oh, not for the reason you might think," he joked, referring indirectly to the company's terrible public relations problems. Scott explained that he spilled a red drink on his wife's new clothes at an event the night before and was afraid she would put him in the hospital, causing him to miss the meeting. Isn't that a riot? He must have thrilled all the feminists in the room who don't appreciate jokes about domestic violence. All the men in the audience who have ever hit their wives must have found the remarks hilarious also. A short time later, Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, drew sutained applause from shareholders when she pointed out that Wal-Mart has only two women on its 14-member board. Not surprisingly, the good ole boy Board at Wal-Mart asked shareholders to reject Burk's initiative, which would have required Wal-Mart to provide a breakdown, by race and gender, on how stock options are distributed. "We want to be sure there is not an equity glass ceiling in our company. Wal-Mart has the opportunity to break new ground in shareholder information," she said. Burk started off her speech by insisting that "two women on the board of Wal-Mart is not enough of 14. We can do better." But the company took no action to do better, and Lee Scott ended the meeting with a pledge that the Wal-Mart would continue to fight its critics. Scott said Wal-Mart's opponents haved launched a $25 million anti-Wal-Mart campaign. "We're the focus of one of the most organized, most sophisticated, most expensive corporate campaigns ever launched against a single company," Scott warned. "That means we'll continue to be judged by a higher standard than any other company. That's just the way it is. And that makes it more important than ever that we focus on doing the right things and doing things right, every time."

What you can do: What Lee Scott failed to mention is that local communities for years have complained that Wal-Mart has been financing one of the "most organized, most sophisticated, most expensive corporate campaigns ever launched" against their hometowns in history. Now those communities are fighting the giant, and the giant can dish it out, but doesn't like to take it back. "Doing things right" apparently meant rejecting all the shareholder reforms presented to the company. A total of 8 proposals were turned down yesterday. For a list of the reforms which were rejected, search Newsflash by "shareholder." Investors, meanwhile, continue to do the right thing, as Wal-Mart stock continued to fall flat, like it's CEO's tasteless joke. Let's just hope that Wal-Mart's next CEO doesn't make inappropriate comments about his wife "putting him in the hospital."










 
 
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