A continued commitment to strong governance
This year, we mark the historic occasion of Walmart's 50th anniversary. Our success over these five decades reflects the strength of our mission, people, values and culture. My dad would be amazed by how far we've come, and he'd be excited about the opportunities ahead to continue our mission to save people money so they can live better.
Nothing is more important to delivering on our mission than Walmart's people. Our board members, company leaders, managers and associates bring our values to life every day as they serve customers and shareholders. We respect individuals, care for customers and strive for excellence in all we do. Dad established those values and beliefs — simple words, but strong in how they guide us in serving each other and our customers. Those values also guide our commitment to help our communities live better. I am proud of how much progress we've made in service to our communities around the world.
Ethics come first
"Personal and moral integrity is one of our basic fundamentals, and it has to start with each of us."
Dad never wavered in his belief that integrity was essential. "Personal and moral integrity is one of our basic fundamentals, and it has to start with each of us," he said. With culture and values like these, there is no limit to the difference Walmart associates can make for shareholders and customers and the world we serve around us.
We also are proud of the service of our board members, and of the processes we have in place to serve our shareholders. Good corporate governance is good business. As your chairman, I am pleased that we continue to strengthen our structure and best practices.
We recognize the importance of board independence. We separated the roles of board chairman and chief executive officer nearly 25 years ago in 1988, when Dad became chairman and David Glass chief executive officer. This decision promoted even greater accountability and responsibility.
Ten of our current board members are independent, and we have an independent presiding director. All directors must stand for election each year and receive majority votes. Based on the board's recommendation, we provide shareholders with an annual "say–on–pay" vote, which received overwhelming shareholder approval last year.
We added an additional board meeting to the 2012 calendar to provide more face–to–face time with management. Last year, in fact, we had an attendance rate at board, committee and shareholders' meetings of 98 percent, an extraordinary measure of our directors' dedication.
We also added a Technology and eCommerce Committee last year to bring more intensive company focus on Global eCommerce and social and mobile retailing. We are leveraging the knowledge and insights of directors who have deep experience and high expectations in this area.
There's no doubt that Dad would be proud of Walmart today. He would push us to ensure that Walmart becomes even more trusted and successful in the years ahead. He was always most interested in new areas and challenges that went beyond what we had already done or were doing at the time. I also know that he'd constantly challenge our assumptions about what we can accomplish and how we intend to do it. And he'd absolutely push us to maintain the highest standards of integrity and performance.
I'm proud to be an associate, a director and a shareholder. I'm excited about what the future holds for Walmart as we deliver on our mission. There are many blessings that Dad left our company, including our values and culture. I can't help but believe that as we represent Walmart's shareholders, these principles will continue to guide us, and we will be even stronger over the next 50 years.
S. Robson Walton
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Wal–Mart Stores, Inc.