Walmart Shareholders Seek Full Public Disclosure on
Steps to Address Corruption Charges
In Advance of Annual General Meeting, Long-Term Investors Issue Letter to Board Members Citing Communications Vacuum in Management of WalMex Crisis
NEW YORK, NY/// May 31, 2012/// Today, members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility released a letter they sent to S. Robson Walton, Chair of Walmart’s board of directors, requesting a full accounting of measures the company is taking to address the allegations of bribery in its Mexican operations.
Noting their frustration that the board of directors has not made a public statement since the allegations were first reported the letter states… it is critical that the board articulate the steps it is taking to ensure a comprehensive and independent investigation of the allegations in Mexico to ensure that the company’s processes and procedures are changed to prevent future crises.
Said Sister Barbara Aires of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, NJ, “We have been working with Walmart on issues of corporate responsibility regularly for over 20 years. There has been a tremendous investment of time and energy devoted to improving the company’s transparency on a host of issues from workplace inclusiveness to executive compensation to sustainability reporting and supply chain accountability.” She continued, “The free flow of information, particularly in times of crisis, is essential to maintaining the public’s trust and the company’s social license to operate. As shareholders with a vested interest in the long -term growth of Walmart, we believe it is incumbent on the board to keep us properly informed through formal, public channels.”
The letter also cited examples of other companies caught in high profile scandals which, as a result of their immediate responses and disciplined communications efforts, were able to weather the crises and restore the companies’ reputations. Said Stuart Dalheim of Calvert Investments, “The board must acknowledge any mistakes that may have been made and work to reassure investors, associates and customers that it is doing everything within its power to correct those mistakes.” He continued, “Circling the wagons and going silent will only make matters worse. As shareholders we feel it is important to send a clear message to the board that we expect to hear what the company is doing to prevent something like this from ever happening again.”
The annual general meeting takes place on Friday, June 1st at the Bud Walton Arena at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Past Walmart shareholder meetings have been tightly controlled PR events complete with celebrity appearances and audiences of up to 20,000.
Said Aires, “At Friday’s meeting the board has got to address the serious questions head on. Failure to do so will further damage investor trust… which is already shaken as we know from the numerous law suits being filed.” She continued, “But beyond the shareholders, there are more than one million U.S. associates, and beyond them, the millions who shop at Walmart stores every day. They need answers as well, and the annual meeting is a perfect opportunity for the board to demonstrate their commitment to integrity through their openness and honesty with all stakeholders.”
Director of Communications, ICCR
About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR):
Currently celebrating its 41st year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of active shareholders who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for change. Its 300 member organizations with over $100 billion in AUM have an enduring record of corporate engagement that has demonstrated influence on policies promoting justice and sustainability in the world.