Wal-Mart Stores President and CEO Lee Scott said the company would continue to take action on energy efficiency and other key issues identified in his October 2005 "Leadership in the 21st Century"speech.
Scott, in a speech to more than 7000 managers at the annual kick-off meeting for its U.S. stores, said, "It is important for all of us to understand that there are a number of issues facing the world that will profoundly affect our lives and our company. I am talking to you about issues like international trade, climate change, water shortages, social and economic inequities, infrastructure and foreign oil. Wal-Mart can take a leadership role, get out in front of the future, and make a difference that is good for our business and the world."
Scott noted that Wal-Mart sees the impact that rising energy costs have on customers who must choose between filling their gas tanks or buying food and medicine. In the coming months and years, he said the company will work to extend its mission of saving people money "so they can live better to help customers use less energy and spend less on energy."
"Leadership is not about looking over your shoulder and living in the past. It is about looking over the horizon and envisioning the future," Scott said. "What began 27 months ago as a commitment from the top of our company, is now a commitment from the heart of our company."
In the speech, Scott laid out a new company-wide goal to work with suppliers to make the most energy-intensive products in Wal-Mart stores 25% more energy-efficient within three years.
"What if we extended our mission of saving people money so they can live better - to saving people money on energy?" Scott asked. "We believe we can do this. Wal-Mart can help our customers use less energy and spend less on energy. This will also help every country where we operate reduce their dependence on foreign oil."
Scott said that the company will work with suppliers to make the products on its shelves more accessible, more energy efficient and more affordable. He also said the company would take the lead on informing customers about the energy required to make and use more energy-intensive products.
"Taking waste and non-renewable energy out of our supply chain reduces the amount of pollution and greenhouse gases our suppliers send into the atmosphere," Scott said. "And helping our customers buy more sustainable products and be better stewards of the environment reduces their own carbon footprint. This is something that I think all of us can be proud of."
Scott also announced that Wal-Mart will launch a major, retail-industry effort to improve social, ethical and environmental standards in the supplier factories that the company sources from.