Wal-Mart’s Board of Directors and its leadership team are feeling the heat due to the recent revelations about alleged payoffs in Mexico (see “Wal-Mart…What if?" and “Wal-Mart’s Bribery Scandal; why it matters”). According to a USA Today toy article, “Calif. pension fund to vote against Wal-Mart board”, “[t]he California State Teachers' Retirement System says it has lost faith in the board's independence amid allegations of bribery in Wal-Mart's Mexican operation. Wal-Mart's slate of nominees comprises 15 incumbents including CEO Mike Duke…”
The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) is the country’s second largest pension fund; so their decision matters. In fact, Forbes reports that CalSTRS “… is also suing current and former executives and directors of Wal-Mart over the bribery allegations, echoing recent calls to vote against re-election for CEO Mike Duke, former CEO Lee Scott and Chairman Rob Walton…by the likes of New York City Pension Funds (which own 5.6 million shares).”
It’s one thing if pressure is just coming from the outside but it also seems to be popping up at the store employee level. I was sent a petition flyer that was created by a Wal-Mart employee and was being
handed out in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Venanzi Luna, is the person who has started the on line petition which calls for the resignations of the company’s Chairman, Rob Walton and CEO, Mike Duke.
According to the petition website, they have over 16,000 signatures out of the 25,000 for which they are looking. The wording in the petition is emotional and reflects a desire to clean house. It appears that this comes from there being a long standing business ethic that employees have believed in strongly and feel has been broken by their leadership.
Wal-Mart’s leadership is in a tough spot as they are being asked to clean up a mess that reached the top. Wal-Mart may easily fight off a proxy battle over the Board of Directors but if Venazi Luna’s petition reflects employee attitudes, they may have a more difficult battle on their hands.