November 21, 2017

Harvard Business Review

Doug McMillon is the CEO of Walmart. The company employs 2.3 million associates and operates more than 11,600 stores in 28 countries. In April 2017, Walmart launched a program to work with suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

McMillon talked with HBR about his company’s sustainability efforts as part of The Future Economy Project, an HBR initiative that shares real-world lessons on sustainability leadership for all.

HBR: What was the moment you decided that climate issues were going to be part of your portfolio of concerns as an executive?

MCMILLON: This shift in thinking goes back to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, our CEO, Lee Scott, challenged us to step up in a big way, and we did. Walmart was an unexpected early responder there, providing more than 2,400 truckloads of supplies and 100 truckloads of donated goods while pitching in to help coordinate relief efforts on the ground. As that happened, a sense of pride emerged and we saw how our size and scale (we were still getting used to being a big company) could be used for good. Lee asked us, “What if we could be that kind of company all the time?” That set us on a new course.
We started listening to our critics rather than being defensive. We started learning about social and environmental sustainability, and we began to see an overlap between doing good and succeeding financially. We set some big goals: to be powered by 100% renewable energy, create zero waste, and sell products that sustain people and the environment.

Was there anything in particular that shaped your thinking?

Back when we first began our sustainability journey, we partnered with Jib Ellison of Blu Skye, a consultancy. He took us on experiential field trips (one of my memorable trips was to a landfill in Georgia), and he gave us a steady diet of books to read about sustainability (The Ecology of Commerceby Paul Hawken and Green to Gold by Daniel Esty and Andrew Winston were two of the more memorable ones). A core group of Walmart leaders got really excited about what we were learning and what we could do. We also talked to lots of environmental leaders who were often pretty direct about what areas needed improvement.

Which stakeholders have been most resistant to your sustainability agenda? 

In the early days of our work, not everyone in the company agreed with working on sustainability or even knew what the term meant. It took some work to demonstrate the benefits of sustainability for customers and for the business, and to translate it into practical efforts such as improving fleet efficiency or reducing energy usage.

How have you brought them on board?

The doubters got on board quickly when they saw that our P&L could benefit while we were doing good work for the environment. A constant theme for us in engaging our associates and stakeholders has been shared value: the need to integrate sustainability into business, not treat it as a separate effort, and to ensure we deliver business value as well as value for the environment and society.

Voluntary carbon reductions are unlikely to achieve the scale needed to solve climate change — we also need policy. What obligation do businesses have to engage in civil society and lobby for action?

We seek to cooperatively and constructively work with local, state, federal, and international NGOs in this effort. Renewable energy and efficiency investments both in our own operations and with suppliers have enabled us to support jobs, reduce impact on the environment, and save money. Therefore, we will continue to share these insights with the public sector and continue to advocate on these issues.

You’ve pledged to remove 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions from your supply chain by 2030. That will require partnering with thousands of companies with which you do business. What have you learned about working with suppliers and other partners on sustainability? 

Achieving this goal will require the collective effort of our suppliers, customers, associates, and other stakeholders. To encourage suppliers’ participation, Walmart is sharing the business case for why suppliers should pursue reducing emissions — increasing competitive advantage, spurring technological innovation, inspiring brand loyalty, and increasing employee engagement.
We are also helping suppliers set and achieve emissions-reduction plans with a comprehensive tool kit. The tool kit is a manual for suppliers to use as they set their emissions reduction targets, track their progress, and report their savings.

Walmart has taken a journey when it comes to sustainability, from target of criticism to a leader among retailers. What have you learned?

Through our journey, our eyes have been opened to a few key trends that have contributed to some of our sustainability success.
To begin with, we quickly discovered that we can’t create a solution on our own. Driving meaningful change requires collaboration, from convening environmental NGO partners to working with suppliers on creating more-efficient supply chains to even joining forces with competitors to create solutions to shared problems. To make a true systems change, we all must work together to identify the roots of major problems.

Additionally, we have found that sustainability makes good business sense. Walmart has been able to incorporate technologies and developments within our supply chain — from energy efficiency to reducing food waste — that not only have reduced our environmental impact but also have saved us money as a company.

And lastly, and perhaps most important, customers want to buy products they feel good about. In embarking on our sustainability journey, we quickly came to realize that people want to feel good about the products they purchase.

March 23, 2018
VRGA's RISE Up Retail Training Program
March 21, 2018
House gives Workforce Development bill unanimous support
March 20, 2018
Member of the Month: Harborside Harvest Market
March 20, 2018
City Market Co-Op grants offer $330,000 to six community organizations
March 20, 2018
Vermont Foodbank welcomes Jeffrey Tieman to board of directors
March 19, 2018
Consumer protection bill clears Senate committee
March 19, 2018
Report looks at child care, the economy and gender equity in Vermont
March 5, 2018
A Small Town Kept Walmart Out. Now It Faces Amazon.
March 5, 2018
Survey: Vermont businesses show mild uptick in economy
March 2, 2018
Tops shoppers help to buy 3 million meals for families in need
March 1, 2018
Stewart's Shops to Invest $50M in New Builds, Rebuilds & Renovations in 2018
March 1, 2018
Vermont Cider Company Launches New Tank Series with Release of Woodchuck Pear Ginger
February 28, 2018
VRGA gets workforce development grant
February 26, 2018
7 retail execs envision the future of stores
February 26, 2018
International fashion retailer H&M to open first Vermont location
February 21, 2018
Vermont Hard Cider and Pabst to End Partnership
February 20, 2018
Red Fox Shop in Wilmington sells local wine, beers, wares Read more: Deerfield Valley News - Red Fox Shop in Wilmington sells local wine beers wares
February 20, 2018
Higher income, healthier groceries
February 20, 2018
How The Home Depot Is Using Tech to Attract Workers
February 19, 2018
Steve Moyer & Patrick Crowl: Minimum wage, a business perspective
February 19, 2018
Commentary: The changing face of retail
February 19, 2018
Sen­ate ad­vances $15 min­i­mum wage bill
February 15, 2018
Commentary: Expanding the labor force is essential
February 15, 2018
February 15, 2018
Member of the Month: The World
February 13, 2018
City Market Recognized with Workplace Awards
February 9, 2018
Retailers, despite store closures, predict higher sales
February 8, 2018
Senate to vote next week on $15 minimum wage hike
February 6, 2018
Richards Group to acquire Centurion Insurance from Mascoma BankRichards Group to acquire Centurion Insurance from Mascoma Bank
February 5, 2018
Governor challenges legislator pooh-poohing Labor Force problem
February 2, 2018
Super Senior: June Waite and Jerrilyn Remillard
February 1, 2018
The changing world of retail: 4 ways to defend against Amazon
January 31, 2018
Lauzon pushes plan to license Barre pot growers
January 31, 2018
Eric Polep to President and Chief Executive Officer J. Polep Distribution Services
January 30, 2018
City Market Signs Sales Agreement with Petra Cliffs
January 29, 2018
Vermont businesses have good reason to hang on to employees
January 29, 2018
Panera Bread on Church St. closing, Outdoor Gear Exchange to expand
January 29, 2018
Neighbors Band Together in Effort to Revive Brownsville Store
January 29, 2018
KeHE Brings On Trend™ Flavors to Winter Fancy Food Show
January 26, 2018
Donovan: Working for Vermont businesses, legislative update
January 25, 2018
Training high on list in Workforce Development Working Group report
January 24, 2018
Governor Scott presents balanced budget, no tax or fee hike
January 23, 2018
Ashe And Scott Spar Over Plan To Raise Minimum Wage To $15 An Hour
January 19, 2018
Natural Foods Co-op Celebrates Expansion
January 19, 2018
28 Retail Marketing Predictions To Watch In 2018
January 18, 2018
50 businesses named as Best Places to Work in Vermont 2018
January 18, 2018
Business growth program open to 20 VT entrepreneurs
January 17, 2018
C-Stores Appeal to Health-Conscious Consumers
January 16, 2018
Member of the Month: Dan & Whit's General Store
January 15, 2018
Walmart raises wages, handing out bonuses
January 11, 2018
Vermont Senate passes, governor expected to sign, bill making pot legal for adults
January 8, 2018
Macy's announces 5,000 job cuts, 7 new store closures
January 5, 2018
Scott wants to attract more workers
January 5, 2018
Progressives renew push for $15 wage as heart of economic agenda
January 4, 2018
Johnson opens session with pitch to pull together on problems
January 2, 2018
Onion River staff not giving up
January 2, 2018
Vt. Lawmakers to talk pot promptly
January 2, 2018
SIAL Canada Launches U.S.-Hosted Buyer Program
January 1, 2018
VRGA Honors Members of 30+ Years
December 28, 2017
2017 business winners and losers
December 28, 2017
Big labor sees growth potential in California pot workers
December 27, 2017
Country Stores Provide Timeless Taste of Vermont
December 26, 2017
Finding new workers crucial to the economy
December 26, 2017
7-Eleven Tries Out Mobile Ordering and Delivery with New App
December 26, 2017
The Evolving Role of Store Associates in an Automated Retail World
December 26, 2017
Retailers Feel Shoppers’ Christmas Cheer
December 20, 2017
Northeast Kingdom Fund provides $63,000 in grants
December 20, 2017
City Market Donates Proceeds from 20th Annual Tree Sale
December 19, 2017
Up to $60,000 available through Local Food Market Development Grant program
December 13, 2017
USA News Group: Vermont likely to legalize pot in 2018
December 13, 2017
Community Bank donates $2,500 to Vermont Foodbank
December 13, 2017
December 11, 2017
Benson Village Store has new owners
December 8, 2017
How Dollar General Became Rural America’s Store of Choice
December 7, 2017
Independent grocers still challenged after recession
December 4, 2017
Power of One: Brands Building From Focus on Single Ingredient
November 21, 2017
Development Corp. Helps With New Facility for LEDdynamics
November 21, 2017
November 21, 2017
Vermont’s workforce dilemma
November 20, 2017
November 20, 2017
November 17, 2017
5 Ways to Market Your Business for the Holiday Season
November 15, 2017
Real von Trapps competing with modern Vermont hotels
November 15, 2017
Onion River Co-op Past and Present, and a Preview of the New Store
November 14, 2017
Can local businesses compete with Amazon?
November 14, 2017
City Market Opens South End Co-op
November 13, 2017
3SquaresVT Challenge Kicks Off
November 7, 2017
Gifford’s Strode Independent Living receives Efficiency Vermont cash incentive
November 2, 2017
What to expect from the revitalization of the Burlington Town Center
October 31, 2017
$1M to boost local businesses
October 25, 2017
New initiative links education and training to Vermont’s future workforce and economic needs
October 24, 2017
Amazon's Stealth Takeover of Vermont
October 24, 2017
October 23, 2017
Governor Scott launches ThinkVermont to grow economy
October 23, 2017
The Place to Live, Work, and Shop
October 20, 2017
Vermont businesses credit 25 percent of sales to Amazon
October 19, 2017
Target comes to University Mall
October 19, 2017
City Market donates $30,000 to support the Vermont food system
October 18, 2017
Shelburne's Village Wine and Coffee to Expand
October 17, 2017
October 12, 2017
Governor calls for 'sense of urgency' for expanding Vermont’s workforce
October 11, 2017
Donovan: Protecting Vermonters after Equifax
October 6, 2017
Vermont ranks in top five for energy efficiency
October 6, 2017
What Section 179 Expensing Means for Your Business
October 5, 2017
Scott signs proclamation designating October as Employee Ownership Month
October 2, 2017
2017-2018 Windham Region CEDS Update
October 2, 2017
Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England closes on significant acquisition of new territory in Northeast
September 27, 2017
SNAP Is an Important Public-Private Partnership
September 22, 2017
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets Announces Over $1M in Available Grant Funds
September 6, 2017
Amid federal uncertainty, state employer regulations on the rise
September 4, 2017
Stormwater permits could be costly for some
September 1, 2017
Chicago-area soda tax may carry political price for backers
August 8, 2017
Governor Announces Formation of Interagency Committee on Chemical Management
August 1, 2017
Washington Post: Sobering news for $15 minimum-wage boosters
August 1, 2017
Vermont Department of Taxes Launches a Listening Tour for Small Businesses
July 26, 2017
NYT: Who Wants to Run the Mom-and-Pop Market? Almost No One
July 25, 2017
Retailers Welcome Move Toward More Balanced Overtime Update
July 19, 2017
America’s Retail Champion of the Year
June 26, 2017
Harpoon releases 2017 PMC Beer
May 3, 2017
J. Polep Announces Their Recent Acquisition
March 13, 2017
11th Annual Vermont Organics Recycling Summit
February 14, 2017
January 18, 2017
Vermont Health Connect Announces Key Dates for Open Enrollment
January 11, 2017
Retailers Say U.S. Supreme Court Should Rule in Favor of Free Speech on Credit Card Fees
December 22, 2016
December 15, 2016
Internet-tax case could change online shopping
December 12, 2016
650 Grocery Bags of Healthy Food to Central Vermonters
December 9, 2016
Hunger Mountain Co-op's Annual Holiday Grocery Pack
December 5, 2016
Predicting Where Retailers Will Focus Their Energy in 2017
November 28, 2016
Retailers Made Black Friday Irresistible for Consumers with Great Deals, Online and In-Store
November 22, 2016
C&S Charities Donates 1.7 million to Pediatric Cancer and Childhood Hunger
November 21, 2016
5 Ways To Convert Holiday Shoppers Into Loyal Customers
November 18, 2016
137.4 Million Consumers Plan to Shop Thanksgiving Weekend
November 14, 2016
Mandatory Bag Reuse Program Huge Success at Vermont Specialty Food Market
November 9, 2016
Top 25 retail industry websites
November 2, 2016
October 21, 2016
Members Supporting Local Food Sales
October 4, 2016
National Retail Federation Forecasts Holiday Sales to Increase 3.6%
September 27, 2016
ImageTek Labels Expands Digital Printing Capabilities With Jetrion 4900M-330
September 23, 2016
Meat Grinding Record Keeping Requirement
September 22, 2016
Halloween Spending to Reach $8.4 Billion, Highest in Survey History
September 21, 2016
Farrell Distributing along with Leunig’s Bistro & 12 local restaurants to raise money for the UVMMC Breast Care Center
September 19, 2016
Dick Barnes Recognized for Long-term Service to Vermont
August 29, 2016
Survey Finds Seven in 10 Small Retailers ‘Overwhelmed’ By Government Regulations, Mandates
August 23, 2016
Cabot partnership to help Food, Farms & Forests Fund
August 11, 2016
Vermont will not enforce GE Food Labeling Law
August 2, 2016
Woodstock Farmers’ Market Gold Barn Honoree
July 26, 2016
National Retail Federation Upgrades 2016 Economic Forecast
July 21, 2016
Back-to-School and College Spending to Reach $75.8 Billion
July 1, 2016
NRF Welcomes Appeals Court Ruling Against Disputed Credit Card Swipe Fee Settlement
June 30, 2016
Vermont’s earned sick leave law
June 16, 2016
2016 Scholarship Recipients Named
June 15, 2016
City Market considers next phase of expansion
May 26, 2016
Congressman Welch Honored as NRF Legislator of the Year
May 25, 2016
NRF Recognizes Legislators of the Year
May 16, 2016
#ShopNaked at the Woodstock Farmers Market
May 13, 2016
Walmart suing Visa over chip card
May 11, 2016
From Seeds To Sweets, Small Businesses Are A Winning Formula In Lamoille County
May 11, 2016
City Market Job Opening - Director of Operations
May 5, 2016
Sherman and Trombley of Stowe Mercantile are VRGA Persons of the Year
April 27, 2016
Americans to Spoil Mom this Mother's Day
April 11, 2016
The House passes a resolution honoring Bethany Berger
April 4, 2016
A Hannaford Supermarkets program surpasses 2 significant milestones
March 30, 2016
A Vanilla shortage?
March 18, 2016
Vermont Pickle on Local 22 & Local 44
March 10, 2016
Best Bagger 2016
March 7, 2016
Onion River Co-op partners with Mansfield Cooperative to save Underhill Country Store
March 7, 2016
14 Vermont businesses receive $14,000 to attend national trade shows
March 1, 2016
Bethany Berger takes home 2nd place!
February 26, 2016
Only ONE booth left!
December 4, 2015
It's Scholarship Time!
October 6, 2015
Gubernatorial Candidates to Judge Vermont Bagging Championship
September 29, 2015
FDA Issues Orders
July 22, 2015
Three Vermont Businesses named America’s Retail Champions
Board of Directors
VRGA Staff
Member to Member
Employment Posters
Monthly Newsletter
About VRGA
Legislative Affairs
Site Map
Vermont Retail & Grocers Association
148 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602

Telephone: 802-839-1928
Fax: 802-839-1927
Email: info@vtrga.org