In corporate chain stores and huge corporations like Wal-Mart, workers get frustrated as a result of several unjust treatments. A good percentage of the employees are forced to be part-time workers since these companies want to pay for as little benefits as possible. Such companies are also temporarily understaffed making many of their employees to work overtime which, in most cases, is not paid. Failure of the employees to complete their tasks directly results into loss of that particular job. This compels the workers to go extra miles even if it means working overtime, with very poor benefits. In these big stores, other injustices like sexual and racial discriminations are also evident. In this work, I have analyzed the business practices of Wal-Mart and the effects of such practices to individuals and the society at large.
Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer, with $220 billion in sales and the largest private employer ion USA with 3,372 stores and more than 1 million hourly workers. The annual revenue from Wal-Mart accounts for 2 percent of America's entire domestic product. The company had plans of creating 800,000 more jobs worldwide by 2007. With it rapid expansion rate and its larger size, the company increasingly sets the wage standards and benefits in entire US economy. An hourly worker at Wal-Mart earns approximately $18,000 a year, while the company itself makes over $6 billion profit per year. The company’s medical plan is very expensive and costs up to $2,844 a year, and as a result, over forty percent of the employees opt to walk out of it. Indeed Wal-Mart exercises unethical business practices which are not justified by their success and the amount of jobs the business provides for lower income families. However, the employers have not decided to sit back and watch. Many of the employers have been angered by the disparity between their wages and the profit which the company makes, and they have started to fight back. Several workers have sued the company for violating wage-and-hour laws in twenty-seven states. At Oregon, the company was found guilty of systematically forcing employees to work overtime, which in most cases, is not paid.
Looking at the events which Karen Olsson portrays in the article “Up Against Wal-Mart,” we openly identify how this retail giant assaults the American values and the families. This is the hypocrisy of the Wal-Mart. Openly; this corporation depicts a charity and servitude image to the community while in real sense, it is responsible for the shameful, unjust and irresponsible inhumane practices in US and elsewhere. Workers get frustrated as a result of the unjust treatments. Quite a number of the employees are forced to be part-time workers since the company wants to pay for as little benefits as possible. Even though quite a number of the employees are part-time workers, the company is temporarily understaffed making many employees to work overtime which in most cases are unpaid. Failure of the employees to complete their tasks directly results into loss of that particular job. This compels the workers to go extra miles even if it means working overtime and the benefits are very poor. There are other injustices including sexual and racial discriminations. A case of sexual discrimination is evident when the company wrongly denied equal pay and promotions to 700,000 women. The fact is that over two-thirds of all Wal-Mart employees are women; however, they are not considered for top positions. Women make up less than 10 percent of top store managers. Only Hillary Clinton, who was the first woman appointed to the Wal-Mart board, tried to make the company to hire more women managers. However, her effort apparently went the way of national health insurance. It is amazing that today; Wal-Mart has the same percentage of women in management just as it had in 1975.
It is very disappointing that Wal-Mart Company has resisted the efforts of its employee’s in forming unions. It’s again frustrating that this giant store still discriminates employees on gender basis. Socially, the company is doing more harm than good. The prevailing social injustices confirm this. The extremely low prices offered by this company and its general dominance are disastrous in terms of economic growth. The company enjoys great monopoly which makes almost everybody to depend on it. At the same time due to its dominance, the government is forced to formulate policies which favor it. The company exercises unethical business practices which are not justified by their success and the amount of jobs the business provides for lower income families. In fact, it has largely contributed towards unemployment and dependency.
Sebastian Mallaby, however, gives us the other side of Wal-Mart and the possible reasons for unethical business practices in his article “Progressive Wal-Mart. Really”. Sebastian believes that Wal-Mart is "a progressive success story." The company’s discounting on food alone has boosted the welfare of Americans by over $50 billion each year. Considering all the Wal-Mart’s products, a total of over $ 250 billion is saves by the American shoppers. The low prices offered by Wal-Mart are very important to the poor and low-income families. The company’s assistance to consumers is a force for poverty relief. Even though there is an annual wage suppression of $4.7 billion in the retail sector, other sectors do fairly well. Wal-Mart is not run by saints; it is prone to mistakes and criticisms. Due to competition, the company may be rough on the workers and the competitors, and it may also be a poor stewards of the environment. However, it should not break the law and get away with it.
Even though Sebastian tries to defend Wal-Mart, I am not convinced by Wal-Mart’s business practices. The company has done more harm that good to the American society and the world at large. Its unethical business practices are not justified by its success and the amount of jobs the business provides for lower income families.
Olsson, Karen “Up Against Wal-Mart” http://motherjones.com/politics/2003/03/against-wal-mart
Mallaby, Sebastian. “Progressive Wal-Mart. Really” Monday, November 28, 2005