WALMART'S POST KATRINA EFFORTS:
HEROIC OR SUPERFICIAL?
MGMT 4300 B
In the face of national crises, people most often turn to the government for safety and social welfare. After all, one must be able to depend on the governing body of a nation to provide for basic needs when an extreme situation escalates to complete chaos and turmoil. It is safe to say that the horrific catastrophe in Hurricane Katrina, and its aftermath, represented a national crisis. Unfortunately for the affected American citizens, even in the state of emergency, then US President George W. Bush and the governing agencies responsible for immediate response were ...view middle of the document...
Additionally, the lack of support and aid provided to distraught families at such a crucial time following the hurricane can also be attributed to the inabilities of government agencies. In the state of emergency, who must the desperate depend on for basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing if not the national government?
This is where Walmart, the world's largest retailer, largest private employer and second largest public corporation, comes into play. As a multinational retail corporation operating chains of large department and warehouse stores, Walmart had significant expertise in supply chain management and distribution that it would make excellent use of as a saviour in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Considering the absence of immediate and effective government response that many relied heavily upon, Walmart's CEO H. Lee Scott Jr. chose perhaps the most opportune time (for both a short and long term outlook) to direct the company's arguably heroic efforts. Walmart's initiatives were incredibly timely for the company's short term outlook, which was providing staples such as food, water and clothing for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In no way is the magnitude of the disaster being understated by calling the relief efforts opportune for the company's short term outlook. The long term outlook of the company improved literally overnight, as the many critics of Walmart's workplace and marketplace operations were even impressed by its initiatives. More specifically, Walmart provided an unrivaled $20 million in cash donations, 1,500 truckloads of free merchandise, food to suffice for an estimated 100,000 meals and a job guarantee for all of its displaced workers. The provision of so many goods during the state of emergency, which the government itself was initially absent from, was incredibly timely for the sake of the thousands of New Orleans citizens, but also to help recover a rather tarnished public relations image. For many, these life changing initiatives strung together by Walmart and its well experienced distribution staff was more than sufficient in reshaping its poor corporate social responsibility image. However, through the eyes of many continued critics, this was simply a public relations move by Scott Jr. to help bolster Walmart's ethical performance. From this perspective, Walmart is fulfilling its instrumental, and not ethical, responsibility in the marketplace. Such critics view Walmart's actions as a way of taking advantage of Hurricane Katrina. Walmart is simply using its big dollars to gain positive public relations. It is incapable of pursuing such social initiatives simply out of altruism, which describes the selflessness or practice of concern for the social welfare of others. I must admit that such skepticism is not entirely unjustified, as Walmart's track record of neglecting corporate social responsibility in the workplace (discrimination against female employees, poor working conditions and inadequate...