Walmart Canada posts strong social results with plans to improve

Retailer increases charitable donations, green power purchases, community investment, payments to Canadian suppliers, energy efficiency, factory training, and recycling.

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Nov. 20 /CNW/ - Walmart Canada has released its latest Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report (http://www.walmart.ca/wms/microsite/CSR_Report/index.jsp), documenting efforts to conduct business in a way that promotes positive outcomes for the environment, company associates, factory workers, and the communities in which Walmart operates.

"As one of Canada's biggest companies and employers, CSR is one of our biggest duties," said David Cheesewright, Walmart Canada's president and CEO. "At our core, we are determined to do what companies are meant to do, grow and prosper. At the same time, we have gained an increasing appreciation for the need and ability of individuals and communities to prosper alongside Walmart.

"Ultimately, a commitment to responsible business practices is helping us do want we do best - save Canadians money so they can live better."

The report documents CSR results for Walmart Canada's fiscal year ended January 31, 2009. It contains four categories - Environment, People, Responsible Sourcing, and Community - which include the following highlights:

Environment: Walmart is committed to reducing the environmental impact of its operations and products. The company has three long-term goals: 1. To operate a zero-waste business; 2. To operate with 100% renewable energy; 3. To sell products that sustain resources and the environment. Key accomplishments follow.

    
    -   The company diverted approximately 22 per cent or 22 million kg more
        waste than the prior year. This contributed to the following waste
        diversion rates: 65 per cent in Walmart Supercentres, 74 per cent in
        discount stores, and 87 per cent in the corporate office. The company
        intends to make the corporate office a zero-waste facility in 2009
        and to raise diversion rates in stores nationwide through new
        recycling programs.
    -   The Burlington, Ontario supercentre, opened in January, 2009, is the
        company's first environmental demonstration store. It is a living
        laboratory that includes a first-of-its-kind application of
        geothermal heating and cooling, daylight harvesting systems, extended
        waste recycling initiatives, and energy management programs that make
        it 60 per cent more efficient than traditional Walmart stores.
    -   The company more than doubled its unique For the Greener Good
        program, which identifies for customers products that are third-party
        certified as environmentally preferable, growing from 300 products to
        more than 700.
    

People: Walmart Canada has grown to become Canada's third-largest employer. By providing an inclusive work environment, training and education, and opportunity, the company is making associates feel more valued, rewarded and empowered than ever before.

    
    -   During a difficult economy, Walmart continued to grow its business
        and create jobs. The company hired more than 5,000 new associates,
        growing its team to more than 82,000 nationwide. This makes Walmart
        Canada's third largest employer.
    -   In a year when many companies conducted lay-offs, Walmart Canada
        celebrated 9,900 promotions, provided operational and leadership
        training to 2,400 associates, and graduated 500 associates, mostly
        part time, from the company's Store of Learning program.
    -   Walmart Canada also became a more flexible work environment, with the
        introduction of partial maternity leave top-up payments, work-hour
        flexibility, and a progressive retirement program to allow aging
        associates to remain with the company in custom-altered roles.
    -   The company has been working for years to recognize the importance of
        women in senior leadership roles. Through a new program called Women
        in Leadership, and existing education and networking initiatives
        specifically for female associates, 26 per cent of the company's
        senior management are female. This is nearly 25 per cent higher than
        the Canadian average and 40 per cent higher than the company's tally
        in 2005.
    -   Walmart Canada's Diversity Council struck an Employer of the
        Community program and working group. The group's initiatives included
        documenting and promoting a multicultural calendar of events,
        explaining the significance of various religious and cultural dates,
        and providing ongoing diversity training for management associates.
    

Responsible Sourcing: As a major retailer, Walmart recognizes the need to confirm that the merchandise we sell is sourced and made ethically and responsibly. Though the company does not own or operate factories, it maintains rigorous standards and monitoring around working conditions, labour practices, and environmental standards.

    
    -   In 2007, Walmart became aware of allegations that school children
        were being forced to work in cotton fields in Uzbekistan. The company
        commissioned research, conducted an investigation, and made attempts
        to address the issue directly with the Uzbek government. On
        September 30, 2008, Walmart instructed its global supply base to
        discontinue sourcing cotton-based materials from Uzbekistan until
        independent verification confirms the use of forced child labour has
        ceased.
    -   In October, 2008, Mike Duke, president and CEO of Walmart Canada's
        parent company, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., traveled to Beijing and
        assembled an audience of more than 1,000 Walmart suppliers and
        government officials. "We are expecting more of ourselves at Walmart
        and expecting more of our suppliers," he said, announcing new social
        and environmental accountability for the global network of companies
        supplying Walmart with products.
    -   In 2008 we began a full review of our fundamental supplier
        expectations. We also began to refine standards to make them stronger
        and simpler. Part of this process includes the incorporation of the
        Global Social Compliance Program "Reference Code" which provides
        common ground for retailers and factory auditors around the world.
    

Community: Walmart Canada is committed to long-term partnerships with the communities in which it operates. That means investing, hiring, operating and contributing locally to help communities remain economically and socially healthy.

    
    -   In 2008, the company did business with 6,879 Canadian product and
        service suppliers, an eight per cent increase over the prior year. It
        paid those companies $13.8 billion, nearly 20 per cent more than the
        prior year.
    -   Through new and expanded stores, the company created more than 10,000
        jobs, including both in-store and construction jobs.
    -   In 2008, Walmart raised and donated more $22.5 million for national
        and local charitable initiatives. This was a 12 per cent increase
        over the prior year.
    

Walmart Canada operates 314 stores nationwide, employing more than 82,000 associates who serve more than one million Canadians each day.

SOURCE Walmart Canada

For further information: For further information: Susan Schutta, Corporate Affairs Director, Walmart Canada, (905) 821-2111 x8012


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