Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Wal-Mart's Former #2 Caught Stealing

One could almost feel sorry for Wal-Mart. For all its vaunted IT structure, a theft as easy to spot as this, and so high up the ladder. Read the CNN story about former vice-chair Thomas Coughlin's guilty plea. For falsely obtaining and using half a million bucks' worth of store gift cards!

Just got to wonder what's going on.

But then again, this is the same company that routinely hires contractors who use illegal aliens in near-slave-labor conditions...has a long history of generating environmental lawsuits...exports jobs from the US to China by demanding its suppliers cut prices substantially every year...uses the US government to subsidize its employees' healthcare, and even then tries to get rid of workers who are most likely to submit health claims. Oh yes, and runs roughshod over the local populace that doesn't want them. In my own town, we're engaged in a battle to block a Super-Wal-Mart that by the company's own studies will completely gridlock the main artery between the two college towns on either side of us. There are already three Wal-Marts within ten miles of my house, including one half a mile from this new project (that they will close likely abandon) and an existing Super Wal-Mart two towns south. The proposal is to pave over 50+ acres of farmland and wetland with the largest building ever constructed in our town (that's a town with several shopping malls and a large sports/concert venue). And did I mention that our town, Hadley, Massachusetts, is considered to have the absolute best farmland in the entire country?

The list of what's wrong with Wal-Mart could go on much longer; there are several books on the subject.

Don't get me wrong. I'll praise Wal-Mart when praise is due. It's happened once so far, in the immediate aftermath of Katrina.

But I do find it very enlightening to compare its business practices with Costco's. Not surprisingly, Costco's bottom line is more attractive, too.


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