As one of the largest multinational corporations, Wal-Mart represents our era of globalization, expansion, and greed. The given article, however, depicts behaviour much to the contrary as Wal-Mart begins to rethink their global footprint and introduce ethics back into business. Wal-Mart Brazil announced that their supply chain will use: “no companies that employ slave labour”, “no soybeans sourced from illegally deforested area”, and “no beef sourced from any newly cleared Amazonian land” (businessweek.com).
The main ethical issue being addressed here is the tendency of large companies to sacrifice human and environmental rights for wealth and company expansion. This raises many questions such as: Will consumers react significantly enough to change Wal-Mart’s profits? How will this effect Wal-Mart’s production costs? Surely minimum wage labour will cost more than slave labour, and legally obtained soybeans ought to be more expensive than those sourced from illegally deforested area- but where is the line? When does a company draw the line between ethics and cost cutting?
The decision by Wal-Mart Brazil’s President, Héctor Núñez, to publicly announce these goals is an inspiration and aimed to spark worldwide action. Wal-Mart Brazil is just the beginning of the reintroduction of ethics back into business!