Introduction egoism (“Egoistic Heronism”) that supports chase for


Today, Wal-Mart faces a variety of publicities especially form the media, either negative or positive, depending on the point of view or topic of discussion. One of the most common topics is that of favouritism that faces incomprehensible thoughts within the corporate structure. In analysis of various normative theories in what is commonly referred to as Sidgwick’s Stratagem, Henry Sidgwick shows existence of intuitionism, just egoism (“Egoistic Heronism”) that supports chase for personal contentment and Utilitarianism (“Universalistic Hedonism”) supporting trail for universal just (Frost, 2009). Although Wal-Mart top executives have different opinions over these claims, indications that the issue of favouritism is deeply obscured aspect within the corporate culture is evident. This paper forms an analysis of the ethical issues raised against or for Wal-Mart Corporation and the potential outcomes of some of the negative or conflicting views about the firm.

Wal-Mart’s Ethical Issues

Ethical Issues

The common incidents fall upon daily undertakings with major occurrences common on their promotion procedures.

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Female employees with credentials, qualifications, experience and obligatory achievements fail to get the top/executive positions. Employees with high education achievements such as degrees also fail to get these positions for the reason that they have not served in the industry for long enough. They base their promotions on those who have had career developments within the firm. If a person is not a long-term serving employee of the firm, the chances of advancing career positions are very low regardless of the academic credentials. The top executives of Wal-Mart will disagree with these claims but most employees of the corporation continue to raise their concerns through unions and their allegations often differ from the company’s vision and goes against company policies. Kohlberg’s first stage of ‘Moral Development Theory’, which is very similar to Piaget’s ‘Moral Thinking Theory’, indicates that pre-conventional morality is a situation where people fear questioning economically powerful entities such as Wal-Mart, on assumption that the corporations are rightfully in charge of implementation of policies such as wage policies (Crain, 2009). Expressing concerns directly can label one a repulsive to company policies or culture and highly compromise chances of promotion.

Ethical Concerns

Favouritism in the workplace is a common ethical issue that many firms face nowadays.

At Wal-Mart, the issue is mainly among the departmental or general managers during the promotion periods. Personal relations especially with the general managers or chief executives triggers some form of favouring that undermine qualifications of others. For instance having a family-friendship form of interaction with the manager may cause him/her to consider your application strongly over other potential challengers who might have higher grades and better work experience as the position may require.

Conflict of Ethical Values

Nobody should have priority for a given position or promotion based on friendship or other form of informal relationship.

The managers must be role models in enhancement of ethical issues at the work place, instead of acting in a disgruntling manner. When business ethical values are compromised, it becomes apparent that measuring performance levels does not mean anything. Knowing the executives in private is the main business fixation that matters thus nullifying ethical practices.

Outcomes and Consequences

Wal-Mart often faces lawsuits filed by employees against unethical behaviours such as discrimination. According to Hartley (2010), the company has among the highest number of pending lawsuits concern with ethical issues internationally, but promotions-related favouritism continues to emerge particularly during promotion time. Wal-Mart records indicate that it faced over four thousand lawsuits in 2004, an equivalent count of approximately a new count every two hours, meaning that it stands as a defendant in court six times every working day (Hartley, 2010). The juries often rule in favour of the giant company especially owing to the fact that lawyers specialize in suing such big companies due to possible hefty material rewards if the ruling goes against the company. This favouritism unethical behaviours during employment and promotion procedures, does not affect the corporate levels but store level personnel.

Such unethical acts that keep reoccurring year after another are not easy to change and eventually overcome, it is only possible to analyze the consequences with time. According to Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory, people are eager to maintain a morally upright society through social and individual rights questioning but it fails to be ideal because different social groups have different values. Wal-Mart is the world largest retail store. The corporation is a private employer that faces great admiration as well as huge criticism especially on matters concerning its practices of employment. Some of these claims of unethical acts can cause huge economical effects on the corporation due to community reactions such as decisions to shop elsewhere in protest. Are the clients ethical is shopping in stores that have a link to unethical behaviours/ practices? The decision mainly depends with personal values (Frost, 2009).

Most people find it unethical to continue buying from a company that is linked to various malpractices against their employees, but they continue shopping at the stores because the company offers the most economical products within their level. They make their personal values based on personal benefits and not the company’s progressive descriptions. Personal mutual fund investments may end up being invested in Wal-Mart, yet one fails to shop at the stores.

You protest their unethical acts by failing to shop at their malls, but you are an indirect company shareholder. Arguably, standing by personal true values would require withholding from mutual investments to the company by finding out where your holdings are invested.

Ethical Values of Wal-Mart

In line with Burrow et al (2009), standing by personal values requires critical analysis and consideration of various factors.

Although the company faces may unethical allegations spanning from engaging illegal migrants, low wages, unpaid overtime operations and gender related discrimination especially during promotions, most clients still consider the company as the best-priced or discounted retail store globally. The company also participates in great philanthropic work such as funding various local non-governmental organizations involved in various resource or human conservation activities. These forms of community relations are evident ethical acts that foster local community causes and development issues. The personal values that people make are thus a great determinant of the economic progress and normative choices.

Critical analysis of Wal-Mart

On a critical analysis of Wal-Mart, the company pay low wages to its employees compared to the federal levels. The company’s policies concerning personnel aim at aggressively keeping the wages at the lowest level possible. The old workers are retrenched as a strategy of getting young people who have good energy levels to perform at the low rates without protests.

They also fail to pay overtime. Gender-related discriminatory acts are common accusations; therefore, Wal-Mart is not only a threat to basic living standards of employees but to majority of related persons, and thus the economy in general. Other competing stores also lower wages or benefits for their own gain due to lack of competition and some good paying stores are forced to close due to in ability to maintain competitive levels.

Wal-Mart also pressurises local suppliers to low products pricing thus compromising on their wages.


Shopping at Wal-Mart is thus unethical, but boycotting is not a sufficient course of action since it does not assist in levelling the playing fields such as legislation to prevent unethical acts such as low wages or benefits. There ought to be strong standardized laws to control salaries, payment of health premiums for workers. Treating people’s claims in an impartial manner and respecting their basic human dignity are principles of justice that grate philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and John Rowls emphasized. Leaders like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi also fought to achieve similar principles that are in line with the normative theory that emphasizes on distinction between right and wrong, just and unjust as well as desirable and undesirable acts (Frost, 2009).


Burrow, J. L., Everard, K. E. & Kleindl, B. (2009).

Business Principles and Management. California, CA: Cengage Learning. Crain, W. (2009). Kohlberg’s first stage of ‘Moral Development Theory’. New Jersey, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall. Frost, M.

(2009). Towards a Normative Theory of International Relations: A Critical Analysis of the Philosophical and Methodological Assumptions in the Discipline with Proposals towards a Substantive Normative Theory. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Hartley, R. (2010). Management Mistakes and Successes.

New Jersey, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Press.


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