Wal-Mart: But We Do Give Them a 10 Percent Employee Discount?

Question
Read Case Study 22, ‘Wal-Mart: But We Do Give Them a 10 Percent Employee Discount. Summarize the overall viewpoint of the author. Discuss ethical issues facing Wal-Mart dealing with, ‘off-the-clock-work’, sexual discrimination, health benefits, the role of unions, the use of undocumented workers, as well as issues relating to child and labor laws.

Wal-Mart stirs a lot of emotions from many people. Peopleeither love or hate the store and its influence has significantly impacted global retailing. Wal-Mart’s very simple strategy of Everyday Low Prices drives every single decision at Wal mart. As a result, payroll expenses are always monitored and evaluated, especially with close to 1.5 million employees worldwide.Therefore, there are huge financial benefits for Wal-Mart to cut every corner they can when it can reduce the cost structure of its business model. Examples such as “off clock work” are not only present at wal mart, but could also be considered an industry wide issue.In any setting in which a time clock records the number of hours worked by an employee, there is always the opportunity to abuse the system.While an innocent request such as “can you tidy up that shelf before you leave” may not have any cost impact, Wal-Mart appears at times to abuse the loyalty of its employees by asking them to work long after they have clocked out. Health benefits are another area where Wal-Marthas been able to minimize their cost structure for the employees. Placing hurdles for eligibility and having high level of deductibles allows Wal-Mart to block some of its employees from signing up for health coverage while others only accept minimum coverage. However, the company offers ten percent discount to their employee purchase on selected items. It has been noticed that moral and ethical issues always confront Wal-Mart and its policies.

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The Issue of gender discrimination has been a major stumbling block for Wal-Mart as it moves to being a global presence. It could be hypothesized that the “good old boy” culture established by SamWalton in rural Arkansas did not condemn managers who perceived that female employees should to be able to have a career at Wal-Mart the impetus it needed to change its corporate. Controversies relating to business ethics are very common at Wal-Mart.

Again, Based on its “good old boy culture”, Wal-Mart Has never looked favorably on unions. They believe that only Wal-Mart knows what is best for their employees. Wal-Mart is still actively involved in stopping unions from being formed for its workers in the United States, Of Course, the ironic twist is that when wal mart started in China, the Chinese Government made it a requirement that every employee be unionized.

The net result is that Wal-Mart has always walked a fine line between ethical and unethical behavior when it examines the relationships between treatmentof employees and reducing costs.

Questions:

1. What are the moral and ethical issues confronting Wal-Mart? Discuss in details.

2. Wal-Mart officials have stated that they don’t feel women are interested in management positions at the company.

Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons to support your answer.

3. Wal-Mart is continually criticized for its health-care policy. Is this really a controversy in the area of business Ethics? Why or why not?

4. Should Wal-Mart be concerned about unionization of stores since allowing unionization of workers in china?

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