Wal-Mart & Sustainability

by Erin McCune on June 5, 2006

in BI and Performance Management, Conferences & Meetings

David Blackwell, Wal-Mart's VP for Global Procurement spoke today at
CFO Magazine's CPM Conference. I was very impressed. I admit, I've been
a critic of Wal-Mart for some time (labor practices, strong-arming
suppliers, etc.) but this was a real eye-opener. Unbeknownst to me
Wal-Mart has had a sustainability program
for the last few years and has reached out to NGOs, governments,
academics, and environmental thought leaders. Blackwell described
sustainability as "the greatest drive for innovation at Wal-Mart in the
last 20 years." The numbers that Blackwell quoted in terms of bottom
line savings, efficiency, and increased sales were very impressive.

I shouldn't have been surprised, given the resources and expertise at
Wal-Mart. And upon further reflection, the sustainability theme is
consistent with my other recent impressions of Wal-Mart. A couple weeks
ago I listened to this podcast from Stanford's Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
series that demonstrates the phenomenal impact Wal-Mart had on a start
up that sells environmentally-friendly, sustainable pesticides. And
Wal-Mart's interest in organic produce is having a huge impact on that
industry, as I read here and as noted by the editorial staff of the NYTimes here. The Wal-Mart  PR machine is very effective and all of their messages are on target.

This has been a dispatch from CFO Magazine's CPM Conference in Chicago
Other posts in this series:

Addendum:  An additional NYTimes article examining the impact of Wal-Mart on the organic industry was published on June 4th. Details as follows:

Mass Natural
THE WAY WE LIVE NOW: 6-4-06
The New York Times Magazine
June 4, 2006, Sunday
By MICHAEL POLLAN

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