Walmart’s reputation took a pounding this week when well-intentioned efforts by employees to help co-workers at several stores were distorted by media outlets and a high profile celebrity who lapped up organized labor’s interpretation of the situation.
Employees at several stores in Ohio conducted a food drive to help out co-workers who apparently were facing some challenging financial circumstances. When Walmart’s union-backed opponents got wind of the situation is was like they won the lottery. The act of kindness, common at workplaces throughout the nation, especially around the holidays, was quickly perverted by Walmart foes adept at spotting opportunities to vilify the company.
The food drive was a perfect opportunity because it allowed for the narrative to develop that Walmart pays its employees so poorly that workers in stores are forced to band together to help one another put food on the table at Thanksgiving.
This played well in some circles and for whatever reason caught the attention of actor Ashton Kutcher who took to Twitter to share his derision of Walmart. The company got drawn in and for awhile, engaged in a back and forth with Kutcher that it could never win considering many of those inclined to follow celebrities on Twitter are not predisposed to consider facts when forming an opinion.
Facts have never mattered in the battle over Walmart’s reputation, although the company has mistakenly believed at times it could set the record straight by attempting to explain the margin structure of the retail industry and complex theories about worker productivity. It also has shared details about pay and benefits that have become more generous in recent years and promotional opportunities that are more abundant at Walmart than any other retailer. When it comes to these areas, Walmart is arguably the most transparent retailer in the industry, offering a total compensation package that exceeds that of many other retailers. The other fact about Walmart that the company doesn’t talk about is it routinely takes chances on employees with no or low skills that other retailers won’t touch. Walk through any store and this phenomenon is evident.