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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc: Image Issues for the World’s Largest Retailer

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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc: Image Issues for the World’s Largest Retailer
Where do you buy eggs, laundry detergent, and motor oil? If you are like millions of others the answer is Wal-Mart. “Each week, 138 million shoppers visit a Wal-Mart retail store somewhere, and 82% of Americans made at least one purchase at Wal-Mart in the year 2003” (O’Rourke, 139). “Wal-Mart’s central promise to its customers is always to have low prices for the goods they want” (O’Rourke, 139). Because of this promise, the company has had to engage in some questionable, perhaps illegal practices. The question is, how does the company balance the promise it made to its customers in 1962, while maintaining a positive image.
Employees are an important aspect in any business. Wal-Mart employs a global workforce of 1.5 million people (O’Rourke, 140). In 2004, the average annual wage for a full-time Wal-Mart employee was $9.76 an hour (O’Rourke, 140). This comes out to $20,300 a year, $1,210 a year more than the poverty level for a household of three. If you increase the family size to four, the figure is $2,750 below the poverty level (aspe.hhs.gov). In 2004 it was discovered that Wal-Mart was locking in their overnight associates. The only ways to get out were through the fire exit or by having the manager manually open the door. Employees complained that if they used the fire exits to leave they would be fired. The also noted that on many nights there wouldn’t be a manager on duty to open the doors for exit (O’Rourke, 142-143). Wal-Mart has also had issues with gender discrimination. In 2004, 1.6 million women sued the company because they felt they were passed over for pay and promotions. The judge in the case indicated that Wal-Mart had a “strong corporate culture that includes gender stereotyping (O’Rourke 143-144). How can Wal-Mart expect its employees to provide outstanding...

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