Walmart's New CEO Doug McMillon - What does it mean for sustainability?

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Just before Thanksgiving, Walmart announced that Doug McMillon will become its new President and Chief Executive on Feb 1, 2014. Doug, 47, has worked his way up the Walmart hierarchy since he joined the company as a teen.

What does this shift in Walmart leadership mean for the company's sustainability priorities? We scoured the internet for insight into Doug's take on sustainability and Walmart's role in shifting public policy, supply chain practices, and operational performance in regard to environmental and social sustainability. There were lots of interviews and articles that touched on Doug's support for sustainability, but none revealed his deeper views. Then we found a 1-hour interview from June 2012 in the C-SPAN video library, in which Doug McMillon opines on a range of ethical, governance, and sustainability issues.

Watch the interview here. (Unfortunately, C-SPAN won't allow us to embed it.)

What we liked, in particular:

  • A focus on organizational values and culture, as well as Walmart's model which moves internal leaders around the organization every 1-3 years so that they gain an understanding that expands beyond their current silo of expertise.
  • A Balancing of the store portfolio--including developing smaller (and tiny!) store footprints for places that don't need and can't support a 'mega-store" size most commonly in the United States.

What we didn't hear:

  • Any discussion of consumerism and over-consumption. In light of Walmart's focus on expanding internationally, we were especially surprised that there wasn't any mention of balancing their competing priorities- "meeting people's needs" and "creating a culture of buying cheap, disposable stuff".

In short, we didn't hear anything that makes us believe that Walmart's sustainability strategy will radically change with its new CEO at the helm in 2014. Do you agree with us? Or did we miss something? Leave us a comment below, or tell us on Twitter!