Walmart: an Ethical Analysis

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“And we've become very doubtful of our information sources, because they're all controlled by these huge multilateral corporations.” 1 – Brian De Palma. At first glance, one can realize that Palma attempts to convey the simple message that large corporations have the influence to change the way people think. However, if his message is examined in even more detail, we can come to the realization that corporations are more influential than any other form of system; whether it is government or civil society. Thus, it is fair to argue that businesses can be at the topmost position of our triangulation model of influence 2. Furthermore, it can also be stated that corporations and businesses, indirectly control the fate of civil society and are to be held responsible for the well-being of the general population. With power comes responsibility, and a corporation should be responsible for the well being of not only its employees but every stakeholder that it affects. However, the largest corporation of them all, Wal-Mart, has repeatedly decided to overlook all of it’s social responsibilities. With annual revenues exceeding $400 billion3, Wal-Mart has been involved in numerous issues regarding unfair treatment against it’s employees. Issues such as poor working conditions, low wages, lack of health insurance and anti-union approaches have shown Wal-Mart to be a corporation that mainly focuses on a single-bottom line approach. Wal-Mart’s unethical practices are not only present in the United States, but also in countries like China, Bangladesh and others all over the world.

Recognize the Moral Impacts

Primary StakeholdersInterests/Stakes

Shareholders

BenefitsWhen Wal-Mart makes profits, even with the ethical issue, shareholders and stockholder are able to benefit the most.
HarmsIf Wal-Mart decreases their ethical issues, they just might as well incur losses in their stock prices which will bring harm and loss to stake/shareholders
Rights ExercisedShareholder and stockholders have the right to sell their shares and/or stocks if they believe that Wal-Mart is unethical
Rights DeniedMost stockholders are denied the right to many of the unethical information that drives Wal-Mart

Communities/
General PublicBenefitsFeel as though they are benefiting from Wal-Mart’s low price •Increase in population in the nearby cities and towns
Members of communities benefit from the variety of products Wal-Mart provides at just one stop
HarmsMembers of communities start to lose business
They realize that as Wal-Mart enters a city or town, there will be less environmental focus
Rights ExercisedCommunities have the right to fight back Wal-Mart for their harm to environment
Rights DeniedWal-Mart is able to get subsidy from government, however other community businesses are denied subsidies

Employees BenefitsIf employees get promoted to become manager or higher, their potential to earn high wage will significantly increase •Foreign employees are benefitted with some sort of employment which is better than nothing for them

HarmsAre not given legitimate hours, breaks, lunch, wages, promotion, healthcare, and insurance •They could be getting better benefits elsewhere
Foreign employees are placed in long working hour sweatshops
Rights ExercisedAs employees they have the right to ask for overtime pay, the right to leave for their break, and the right to ask for pay days; however, at Wal-Mart some of these rights are gradually denied

Rights DeniedEmployees are indirectly denied day-offs, and overtime pay •They are also denied their rights to speak up for what they want •Foreign employees are denied communication with one another

Suppliers

BenefitsSuppliers benefit from Wal-Mart’s increasing profits
HarmsSuppliers are offered low prices just as how customers are offered low prices
Rights ExercisedAs supplier they have the right not to supply their...
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