Walmart: A Problematic American Power
Walmart’s historical basis is solid; cut out retail’s middle man so customers save money. Efficient, innovative, and smart, this model was a success during Walmart’s infancy. But with time and massive growth Walmart has adopted many problematic policies. The recent economic suppression and exploitation of both customers and workers, systematic disrepresentation of women, and controversial political involvement have been Walmart’s most notable offenses. Despite its wholesome basis, Walmart has grown into a highly controversial superpower that is unhealthy to the economies and cultures it affects.
Walmart’s most maniacal scheme is the strategic appealing to, and employment of, low-income persons. Walmart is well aware that most all of its customers are considered middle or low income; and Walmart makes good use of this fact. Contrast this to the famous business pioneer- Henry Ford. He was famous not only for revolutionizing the production of American cars, but for his economic tactics surrounding it. Ford paid his workers well enough to ensure they would be able to buy his cars. By enlarging the paycheck of his workers, Ford enlarged his own as well. Oppositely, Walmart pays its workers notably low wages. Walmart, which is highly dependant on low-income clients, uses these low wages to enslave people to their corporation. (Featherstone, “Down and Out in Discount America”) In turn, these low-income workers turn into low-income clients. In using this reverse-Ford economic model, America’s favorite superstore is creating a radically unequal and selectively profitable dynamic.
These economic issues lead to homogeneity within Walmart’s doors. Subconsciously, we all are attracted to others who are similar to ourselves. This is especially apparent in the retail context; patrons are more comfortable with, and subsequently gravitate towards, stores with employees who they relate to. For both shoppers and employees of Walmart, this connection is quite important.
One would think that shoppers want the best for their friends or family members who work for Walmart. Whether a caring parent or a random employee-turned friend, the shopper-employee relationship is a notable one. Thus, one would also think that clients would want their employees to have opportunities and economic stability- it is not this easy. Although some would argue that Walmart clients want employees to have higher wages, health care, or paid medical leave, our unconscious minds would tell us differently. Some higher-income clients want these benefits for Walmart employees. But with these benefits would come a disparity; Walmart’s crucial low-income buyers would be turned away, subliminally intimidated the now-superior employees. Lacking the connection many Walmart clients now experience, a percentage of poor patrons would certainly be lost.
As if Walmart’s poverty-based success wasn’t bad enough, Walmart turns to the federal government to make up for their low wages. Walmart has promoted the use of welfare by its employees, even releasing a set of instructions on how to sign up for welfare. (Featherstone, Down and Out in Discount America) Government-provided benefits are meant for those with little to no income due to physical or mental disability or temporary unemployment- not those who are employed by a large corporation. Rather than standing up for the well-being of their employees, Walmart executives watch their employees scramble to survive while they benefit from the economic despair.
Another highly offensive practice that Walmart has fallen into is their disadvantaging of women. Via pay inequality, corporate misrepresentation, and a lack of opportunities for upward advancement, Walmart creates serious obstacles for its female employees. In Dukes v. Walmart — the largest class action gender discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history — almost 1.6 million female employees fought Walmart on accounts of discrimination in promotions, pay and even job assignments. Fifty-seven percent of Walmart’s workforce identifies as female. For female Walmart employees receiving hourly-based salaries, their average annual earnings were $18,000. This number is $1.16 less per hour, and $1,100 less per year, than men working in the exact same position. (Reed, Amanda. Walmart and Sex Discrimination)
It is disheartening that Walmart has grown into the corporation that it now is. Walmart was once an innovative company with morals and kindness at all levels. Now, Walmart has become simply another example of corporate greed and manipulation. Following their adoption of unfair economic situations, devious political involvement, and even sexist tendencies, Walmart certainly has grown away from their once respectable basis.