My job is to make sure Walmart has the right merchandise on its shelves at the right price. Increasingly, that means factoring the sustainability of a product into our decision-making.
Yesterday, I was at Fortune Brainstorm Green in California to talk about how we’re using the Sustainability Index to crank up the sustainability of our products. It was pretty fun to be on the hot seat, with so many people taking an interest in our company. (I also knew the chairman of our board, Rob Walton, was speaking shortly after me…so I had an extra incentive to do a good job).
But most of all, I love this topic: we are building sustainability into the nuts and bolts of what we do as a retailer – buying and selling merchandise.
I believe we are at a turning point in retail history. Customers are empowered with information and choices. They are increasingly concerned about the world we’re leaving our kids and grandkids. And they have higher expectations of companies like ours. Walmart – and every company – has a responsibility to act.
Working in partnership with nearly 100 other companies, we think we’ve found an innovative way to drive change. The Sustainability Consortium has begun delivering tools to our product buyers to help us evaluate product and supplier sustainability. (For example, there are scorecards and other metrics that let us compare one supplier’s products against another). We have started integrating this work into our buying processes. Every buyer will have sustainability goals as part of his or her objectives, and we will use the Index as the tool to measure progress against those goals. We’ll recognize and reward those buyers and suppliers who are doing well. We will also ask suppliers who aren’t performing well to develop plans to improve, and we’ll hold them accountable for showing progress.
This wasn’t the easiest topic to take on, and, frankly, the work can get a little complicated. But it is becoming part of how we do business at Walmart. We’re keeping at it, and we are delivering.
The Sustainability Index…coming soon to a shelf near you.