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November 05, 2009

Americans are slowly realizing that Walmart is not all about providing great value and low prices. The fact that Walmart is the biggest private employer in the US with close to 1.5 million employees, puts  them in a unique position to shape the way low skilled employees are treated in the US. Many people are in the opinion that Walmart is setting a bad example to other large American employers; only one-half of Walmart employees are entitled to health insurance as a result of their employment. 

The negative public sentiment that many Americans are feeling towards the biggest corporation in world is often justified. Walmart engages in standards of practice that are well below other Fortune 500 companies. Plans for new stores often receive opposition from the local community. For example, in 1997 an Economics Professor at Iowa State named Kenneth Stone published a paper in Farm Foundation that found that small towns could lose almost half of their retail trade within 10 years of a Walmart store opening. The fact that Walmart is looking to provide the lowest price possible on all goods often leads to foreign product sourcing and reducing domestic suppliers to very slim margins of operation.

Another thing that American citizens can take offense with is that even though Walmart operates in China, Brazil, India and the United Kingdom, the only country where employees were prevented from being unionized is the US. Sam Walton’s dream of creating a chain of discount stores had indeed become a reality, but one is left to wonder if Walton would be proud of how Walmart is treating its employees today.

Walmart is the biggest retailer in world but because of how it is conducting itself, it is failing miserably at maintaining a positive online image. Walmart’s Google Resume includes three negative results in the first page alone. This blog has seen its fair share of posts about companies like KFC who have let a single issue hurt their online reputation. and Domino’s Pizza which mishandled a single event and as is still suffering from negative results on major search engines. Walmart is in a category of their own; they are targeted by several different groups and for various reasons. There are steps that Walmart could take to improve their online reputation but without significant improvement in the way they treat their employees and suppliers, more opposition will head their way.

Here's a peak at Wal-Mart's Google first page results.  



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