Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Somehow I don't find the following story from the Maquila Solidarity Network surprising at all. Walmart is hardly likely to be nominated for either the Nobel Peace Prize nor for sainthood anywhere in the world. It's expected that its Mexican operations would be no better. The only surprise is that Walmart cooperated with the survey at all, let along incompletely. Here's the story....

MSN report finds holes in Wal-mart de Mexico's CSR reporting and underlying policies
December 7, 2010

A new report by the Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) and Red Puentes Mexico concludes that although Wal-Mart Mexico (Walmex) has made significant efforts in recent years to improve its corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting, the company has considerable room left for improvement both on its CSR reporting and on the underlying social and environmental practices.

Authored by MSN, the report reviews Walmex's 2009 Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development Report, to evaluate and rate the company's CSR reporting, and offer recommendations on how it can improve both its reporting and practices.

"As Mexico's largest private sector employer and the second largest retailer in Latin America, Walmex has an enormous impact on our country and region," says Jorge Molina, of Red Puentes Mexico, which coordinated the assessment.* "Walmex has a responsibility to improve its environmental and social policies and to keep the Mexican public better informed of the actions it is taking to meet or exceed national and international standards," he adds.

Overall, MSN found significant gaps in Walmex's reporting particularly on its labour and environmental practices. Based on its findings, MSN recommends that the company commit to more thorough reporting on important topics such as the presence of unions and collective bargaining agreements at its stores, as well as the negative economic and social impacts of its business practices on the communities in which it operates, two areas on which the company was silent.

"Walmex needs to better address underlying policy issues such as the presence of protection contracts in most of its retail outlets, its treatment of over 23,000 "volunteer" youth baggers and the lack of consultation with civil society stakeholders on social and environmental issues," says Beatriz Lujan, of the Authentic Labour Front, a member organization of Red Puentes Mexico.

According to Lynda Yanz of MSN, the report has been shared with Walmex, and the company has provided additional information that improved the final version. "We look forward to working with Walmex in an effort to improve the company's CSR reporting and its social and environmental policies and practices based on the report's recommendations," says Yanz.

*MSN's report was conducted as part of an assessment of five Mexico corporations (Walmex, Petróleos Mexicanos, Telefónica, S.A., CEMEX, and Industrias Peñoles) coordinated by Red Puentes Mexico. Each company's CSR reporting was assessed by a different team of researchers, using a common methodology based on the Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines.

Download a summary of MSN's new report (pdf)
Download the full report (pdf)

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