Social Sustainability In The Retail Sector Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

Since the negative publicity has emerged in supplying factories of big retailers and chaos has evolved over the poor working conditions, this has made the retailers to become interested in the social sustainability development. In the 21st century, the trend has shifted from the business oriented structure to the customer oriented structure where the company has to make strategies that satisfy their customers. Additionally, it has also forced companies to carry out its business practices that do not hurt the sentiments of their customers as they verify the statement that the customer is always right. Similarly, companies have been prompted to focus on addressing environmental concerns and as well as carrying the business activities that support healthier environment instead of just focusing the business on satisfying the needs of customers through products or services (Yudelson, 2009).

Many retail companies have embedded the core values of sustainability in their business practices, while others have embraced the concept due to the change in the demands of its customers. Sustainability is emerging out to be a huge factor that affects a company’s strategies, its operations, engagement of the workforce, and meeting to the requirements of customers and communities. The recent incidents of Rana Plaza and other fire incidents have allowed strong criticism which have forced companies to meet the changing needs of its consumers. Since the notable evolution in recent years, consumers have become alarmed and concerned of their environmental surroundings and their social impact. Similarly, the trend has triggered companies to develop environmentally-friendly products and more production of organic foods. However, many retailers have performed various sustainable changes in addressing sustainability issues amongst which Wal-Mart maintains a high reputation but there is still more work to be done due to the industry’s greatest challenges in the future (Epstein & Buhovac, 2014).

Wal-Mart is an international retail corporation founded by Sam Walton in the year 1962. Wal-Mart is by far the world’s largest company in terms of revenue generation and employs over two million workers which make it the biggest employer around the world. For the year 2014, Wal-Mart has generated revenue of $476.29 billion and has over 11,000 retail chains in more than 27 countries (MarketWatch, 2014). Wal-Mart is run by the Walton family as they have over 50% of shares and holding. The headquarters of Wal-Mart is located in Arkansas and is led by Doug McMillon as the Chief Executive Officer of the company.

Wal-Mart discovered to become sustainable by realizing their key strengths in serving some of the stakeholders very well. The company had the legacy to serve its customers, their associates, and their suppliers which helped the company to maintain their relationship which caused them to create sustainable business practices. As Doug McMillon describes that the company initially faced difficulties in adopting the sustainable environment, which is where the company started to anticipate the change it needed in policies and organization culture. However, Doug McMillan believes that Wal-Mart stands today at a much better place as it has implemented social sustainability from its running of truck fleets to the products placed in their shelves (Wal-Mart, 2014).

In order to resolve and tackle social and environmental issues of Wal-Mart, the company has developed Sustainable Value Networks (SVN’s) which is a network globally operated by Wal-Mart operator, merchants, leaders of finance. SVN could be defined as a network which constitutes of internal and external stakeholders of the company and integrates sustainable practices in all business activities. The concept of sustainability 360 is embedded in the SVN structure as it integrates between all departments of organizations. In this program, all the stakeholders join hands to provide sustainability solutions in delivering environmental benefits to the entire world (Wal-Mart, 2014). This program is also referred to as the Wal-Mart way which equals to sustainability value network with addition of special efforts.

The Wal-Mart Way program intends to focus on three core areas local communities, sustainability, and opportunity. The aim is to provide skills and resources to the individuals living in the local communities in order to provide them better opportunities to start a good life. Moreover, the particular program also focuses on reducing fertilizers, sustainable chemistry, empowering women and many others. Wal-Mart encourages its suppliers that possess 14 million acres of farmland to reduce the use of fertilizers. Wal-Mart also supports its suppliers and closely works together to help in the elimination of hazardous substances in their products. Similarly..............................

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