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1999-04-25
Bentonville, AR. Ethical Standards at Wal-Mart?

According to the Catholic News Service, church groups that hold stock in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. are pushing once again for the company to revamp its business practices in a way that will contribute to "sustainable communities and the dignity of the human person." Similar efforts by stockholders to address how Wal-Mart impacts local communities have been rebuffed by Wal-Mart management. A letter sent by the religious groups urges Wal-Mart CEO David Glass to address the issues of sprawl and the use of sweatshop labor. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility sent the letter to David Glass saying that the company's growth has raised concerns that its "strategic vision to achieve success in the marketplace" has come "without an ethical standard of measurement for its decisions." The Interfaith Council is a broad group of religious and nonreligious organizations. "We challenge Wal-Mart to place its vast human and financial resources at the service of sustainable development and support for human rights of workers of all races who have played a major role in Wal-Mart's success," the letter to Wal-Mart says. The correspondence was written by Sister Barbara Aires of Houston, and the Rev. David Schilling, a United Methodist on the staff of the Interfaith Center. Sister Airs coordinates corporate responsibility for her order, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. She hopes her letter will get "the attention of the company". This year's letter is similar in content to ones written in years past. Wal-Mart managers have advised shareholders to reject such letters in the past. Sister Barbara admits that Wal-Mart has provided only "limited and unsatisfactory" responses to these issues. She said Wal-Mart does not publish data about its operations to "let the shareholders see clearly what the facts are." Wal-Mart responded to the latest letter by suggesting that the company had been responsive to the Interfaith concerns. "We have listened," said a Wal-Mart spokesman, "and we have made some changes."

What you can do: For more information about the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, ask your local church for the address and phone number of this group. To express your support of the dual concerns about sustainable communities and the use of sweatshop labor, send your comments to David Glass at Wal-Mart by writing to the company at letters@wal-mart.com.










 
 
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