Message from Mike Duke
The 2012 Global Responsibility Report documents Walmart's steps toward becoming a more sustainable, responsible company and building meaningful, long-term change. It details our progress against specific goals, the wide range of issues we're engaged on and strengthens our commitment to transparency. You will also learn about two new initiatives we launched in 2011: healthier, affordable food and women's global economic empowerment.
Part of our approach to sustainability is to set ambitious goals. We believe that we can make the biggest difference when we leverage our size and, as Sam Walton often told us, "swim upstream." In late 2005, we set three core goals for sustainability:
- to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy;
- to create zero waste;
- to sell products that sustain people and the environment.
We didn't know exactly how or when we would achieve these goals, but we believed we could get there, and we continue to work toward them every day.
Of course, it would have been easier to set a lower bar to achieve something we already knew how to do. But we believe that challenging ourselves to exceed expectations, especially our own, leads us to try different things, break new ground and deliver better results.
Last year, we held our principle of setting ambitious goals to a high standard. In January 2011, we stood with U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and launched a major initiative to bring healthier, more affordable food to America. In one year, we saved customers nearly $1.1 billion on fresh fruits and vegetables, and we recently launched our "Great for You" icon, making it easier for customers to identify healthier food.
At the Home Office in September, in front of an extraordinary group of leaders on global women's issues, we announced another major initiative to empower women across our worldwide supply chain. We were honored just a few days later when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recognized our commitment to double our sourcing from women-owned businesses in every market globally and invest in retail training programs to help 200,000 women internationally and 200,000 women in the U.S. from low-income households. And in April of this year, we announced a joint initiative with the Secretary to support women entrepreneurs in the Western Hemisphere. Empowering women is a powerful way to break the cycle of global poverty and lift up our communities. It also sends a clear message that Walmart understands the difference that women customers, associates and suppliers can and do make for our business.
In addition to setting ambitious goals, another principle that we've held to since the very beginning of our sustainability efforts is engagement with experts, leaders and partners outside of Walmart. Fortunately, we have found NGOs that are willing to share their expertise. We appreciate their independence, and we value when they push us, especially when they feel we should go faster or bigger. These candid conversations and constructive relationships lead to learning and, ultimately, results.
Learning has been one of the great benefits of our work to become a more sustainable and responsible company. One lesson is that our size and scale can work for us — and against us. We recognize that we have a ways to go to achieve our goal of being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy. As of 2010, Walmart-driven renewable projects globally provide 1.1 billion kilowatt hours of our buildings' electricity needs, or about 4 percent annually. We purchase another 18 percent from the grid, for a total of 22 percent renewable electricity. We're also proud that our renewable energy projects in California and Texas alone rank us as the third-largest green power purchaser in the United States.
We've also learned that when you take on such big goals without knowing exactly how to achieve them, you're going to hit unexpected bumps along the way. There are times when we don't get where we want to go fast enough — for our partners or for ourselves — and when we have to adjust our approach. For instance, we've committed to improving energy efficiency by 20 percent at the top 200 factories in China from which we source, by the end of 2012. Progress has been slower than we'd like because we've run into infrastructure challenges, such as a lack of modern metering systems and the fact that a lot of power is generated on site. But these factories have shown transparency and a real willingness to work with us. By the end of last year, 148 factories had met our goal, and we're committed to making even more progress this year through training and sharing best practices.
With every passing year, we also feel more strongly that sustainability is critical to our business and to driving Everyday Low Costs and leverage for shareholders. Operating more efficiently is tied directly to the productivity loop that allows us to deliver low prices and increase sales. Last year, Walmart U.S. crossed a significant threshold by preventing more than 80 percent of its waste from going to landfills. Eliminating unnecessary packaging is another great way to reduce costs. For example, we eliminated 16 percent of the paper fiber used to package our Great Value brand margarine, and, in Canada, we are now shipping Great Value brand spring water in a 100 percent recycled PET plastic bottle. We're now also working with thousands of small- and medium-sized farmers in China, Central America, Mexico, India and other countries around the world. Successful direct farm programs not only increase income for farmers, but they also lead to fresher produce for our customers.
Walmart U.S. and Sam's Club are also making progress with sustainable seafood, which is increasingly important to our customers and members. At the end of the last fiscal year, more than three-quarters of our fresh, frozen, farmed and wild seafood suppliers were third-party certified, with an additional 8 percent having developed certification plans. And our Sustainability Index is poised to become deeply integrated into our business. Through our work with The Sustainability Consortium, we are partnering with more than 90 suppliers, academics, NGOs and other retailers, and are positioned to expand our scorecards to an additional 100 major categories by the end of 2012.
We also made progress with the focus we put on people and associates. Walmart continues to be a workplace of opportunity: 53 percent of associates promoted in our stores last year in the U.S. were women. In fact, over the past five years in the U.S., we have increased the number of female market managers by 49 percent and female store managers by 46 percent. In 2011, we've also increased the number of store managers who are people of color by 52 percent.
We're proud to be a leading recruiter and employer of veterans in the U.S. and have committed $20 million to support job placement, preparation and training programs for these heroes. At the same time, we're working hard to develop and deliver training programs for associates and our communities. In India, for example, our three vocational training centers have certified 9,000 students since the program began in 2008, and more than 3,000 students have been placed in jobs. We believe that businesses can make a difference beyond environmental sustainability and play an important role in helping people improve their lives by acquiring new skills and better jobs.
Fifty years ago, Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store and began to change how people think about retailing. I hope, since we announced our three core goals in 2005, we've also played a role in helping change how people think about the difference that businesses can make. We shouldn't forget that when we started on this journey, many still believed that companies had to choose between "doing good" and "doing well." At Walmart, we certainly feel that we're a stronger business because we're a more sustainable and responsible company.
We recognize that leadership brings higher expectations, and we embrace the challenge. As Sam Walton said, "High expectations are the key to everything." With sustainability, we've accomplished a lot and laid a strong foundation, but we know we still have a long way to go in many areas. We work hard every day at Walmart to be more responsible, and that is the right thing to do for our communities and the world around us. There's also much more opportunity for our business to take out costs, drive innovation, make our people proud, and build strong relationships with leaders everywhere. We are committed to this journey, our goals and the approach that has served us well.
Three years ago, at my first Sustainability Milestone Meeting as CEO, I pledged that we would broaden and accelerate our commitment to being a more sustainable and responsible company. I pledge that we'll continue to broaden and accelerate our commitment to environmental sustainability and beyond in the years ahead. This is one of the most compelling reasons we have to look forward to our next 50 years at Walmart.
Michael T. Duke
President and Chief Executive Officer
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.