The world’s largest retailer, employing more than 2.1 million associates at more than 8,416 retail units in 15 countries worldwide, Walmart demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and diversity, exhibited by its involvement with the school over the past five years. In 2009 and 2010, Walmart will award the school more than $140,000 in support of sustainability, diversity and other key initiatives.
Walmart’s green leadership on campus is a reflection of the efforts the retailer has made to educate consumers on ways to minimize their carbon footprints. “We were probably one of the very early [corporations] to recognize that sustainability—not only was it important for the world we live in—we also realized very quickly it was important to sustain ourselves as a business,” says Charles Holley, BBA ’79, executive vice president of finance and treasurer of Walmart and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council at McCombs.
Since 2007, the company has sent more than 20 professionals to speak in classes at McCombs and provided sustainability business cases as the lead sponsor of student case competitions. In October 2009, Lee Scott, chairman of the executive committee of the board and former CEO of Walmart, spoke as part of the school’s VIP Distinguished Speaker Series about leadership and sustainability. Additionally, Scott hosted a university-wide forum with top researchers from across campus to discuss critical sustainability issues. In 2009, Walmart awarded $50,000 in seed funding to help launch the school’s Energy Management and Innovation Center (EMIC).
“As perhaps the largest corporate consumer of energy in the world, Walmart has provided substantial leadership in areas that relate to energy efficiency and sustainability,” says Sheridan Titman, professor of finance and executive director of EMIC.
Diversity is also a cornerstone of Walmart’s business plan and an integral part of its corporate culture. To cater to a globally diverse customer base, you need “diversity of thought,” Holley says. “Diversity means many things, not just your ethnic makeup. It can be your background, your culture. It’s important that the way we think and manage the company reflects that.”
Walmart promotes these values through its engagement with McCombs. In 2009–10, Walmart donated $25,000 to graduate and undergraduate diversity scholarships and $15,000 to the Diversity in Business program. The firm, which has committed to continued involvement with The University of Texas at Austin for the next three years, provides some of the largest corporate scholarships to individual students, which has helped the school attract top talent to the MBA and BBA programs.
McCombs alumni at Walmart have also generously donated their time by participating in key diversity programs and speaking to student organizations, such as Graduate Women in Business and the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting.
In April, Walmart received the school’s Outstanding Corporate Partner Award, which recognizes a company whose support and engagement extends beyond recruiting and reaches broadly across the school’s key areas for partnerships: priority initiatives, students, research and research centers, faculty and executive education.
Other award winners at the McCombs School Corporate Recognition Dinner include Chevron, the recipient of the 2010 Blazing Saddles award, which honors a company that has the most unique and innovative involvement with the McCombs School over the past year, and Tom Rizzoli with Shell, who was the 2010 Outstanding Corporate Champion, an award that recognizes an individual within a company who has made significant, ongoing contributions to the relationship between the school and his or her company.