More bad news for the United States — Walmart's earnings rose 26% in Q4 2010.
Why, as a business and executive coach, would I say a healthy profit is bad? Especially when it comes to a company that seems to be helping so many low-income families by keeping prices low?
The world's largest retailer is now also one of the largest corporations in the world (bigger than Exxon Mobile, bigger than General Electric) with revenues of over $400 billion. That's more than the combined revenue of all its major competitors (like Target, Kohl's, and JCPenney and Safeway and Kroger supermarkets) in the United States. It operates in 15 countries.
As almost everyone knows by now, they grew so big because they offer great prices on essentials like clothing and food. And they're located in nearly every place a customer exists, even moving into urban big city areas over the past few years.
But now it's time to shake up the management ranks, adopt a new policy of corporate citizenship, and start acting like they really care about the long-term viability of this country.
Studies show that their singular focus on "the lowest price, always" is actually deepening the unemployment rates across the United States. This is due, most often, to Walmart's focus on overseas manufacturing where cheap labor and huge volumes make it impossible for local, even large, national manufacturers to compete. Ultimately, good-paying jobs with large employers disappear as each U.S. manufacturer is forced to either close its doors or ship jobs overseas so that they can compete for Walmart's business. In reports going as far back as 2003, it's been shown that by continuing to import escalating amounts of its product mix (either directly or through U.S. suppliers) it is causing entire industries to go down in its wake.
Additionally they are often accused of dislocating local retail jobs when they arrive in a new market, being cheap with their employees, and participating in sex discrimination.
History shows that any industry that is dominated by one player is ultimately harmed. It's been the same in telecom, auto manufacturing, and countless other sectors. Something needs to change at the top of this organization. Walmart needs to start behaving like it cares about the United States as well as the core values of most advanced Western countries. Otherwise this country and others, including Canada, the UK, and Brazil, are going to see a continuing decay in living standards. That will cause erosion in the leadership of our educational facilities, and then other industries will no longer be able to recruit the best talent here.
Here's to your future...
What if you were given a chance to head this behemoth? How would you change the trajectory?
John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion dollar organizations and launching start-ups in both the U.S. and Canada. The author of two published books, he is frequently seen providing advice on TV, in magazines, and newspapers.