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Greenwashing WalMart plus REAL Green Jobs
by Stephen Morris
Job hunting, as with so many other things these days, has gone virtual. The easiest way to "pound the pavement" looking for a job in the environmental field is to "pound the keyboard" and visit the websites that maintain databases of job openings in the environmental fields.
The results, as this reporter found out, can be eye-opening. A recent visit to GreenDreamJobs.com, caused me to do a double take:
Senior Director, Stakeholder Engagement
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, AR
Wait a minute. Isn't Wal-Mart the company that has single-handedly destroyed the community fabric of small town America? Uh-h-h, don't they siphon off our local dollars to improve the Chinese economy, making it impossible for independent businesses to compete? Don't they provide mostly minimum wage jobs and poor health and retirement benefits?
I read a little farther into the ad and learned that Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world with $256.3 billion in sales, with 1.6 million "associates" (I think that means worker bees) in 3,600 facilities worldwide. If it was a country, not a retailer, it would be the 20th largest in the world. If a city, it would be the fifth largest in the United States.
Now it is seeking an "innovative, out-of-the-box thinker" to spearhead the company's "global stakeholder engagement strategy." Its ad claims it has "embarked on an ambitious and innovative effort to incorporate stakeholder engagement into its core business model."
If I am reading this right, Wal-Mart is telling us they have seen the light and are going to become a socially responsible corporate citizen after spending the last few decades as the symbol of all that is short-sighted and greedy about American business. The new SDSE will "play a critical role in helping the company create a new model of business engagement that uses market-based changes to create societal value."
This means one of two things: either Wal-Mart has had a sudden attack of good conscience and environmental stewardship, or Wal-Mart wants to manipulate their image to achieve the appearance of environmental righteousness. The ad specifies "the position will report to Wal-Mart's Vice President of Corporate Strategy." Hm-m-m-m. Why would a senior director of Wal-Mart's social responsibility report to the VP of Corporate Strategy? In other words, it's a good business strategy to look green. Looks like the same old, same old.
Wal-Mart, environmental good guy? Don't hold your breath. We will believe it when Wal-Mart employees start receiving a liveable wage. Until then, it can continue to be the company we love to hate.
Meanwhile, it is interesting that a story that started as an exploration of how to research green internships ended up hijacked to Bentonville, Arkansas. It is notable that when Wal-Mart set out to find its dream candidate, it went not to the Wall St. Journal, but to one of the many web-based job listings specializing in environmental placements. Whether it is an executive position or an internship, these are increasingly the sources of information.
Here are some of the most popular places to look for professional placements and environmental career opportunities:
Happy hunting! If Wal-Mart comes through with that job offer, tell them you saw it in Green Living.
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