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“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”  ~ Albert Einstein
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Decisions from executives often set the stage for “next steps” for competitors and advisories from other external sources (i.e. NGOs, The Media, etc.). Actions can be direct and confrontational, they can be provide a collaborative approach to bring parties into discussions, or they can be cleverly diffused by pointing out inaccuracy in an opponent’s bias and misinformation.

In this case, the New York Times (NYT) demonstrates its agenda and continued its campaign against “big business” and in particular, Walmart. Often recognized as an extreme left leaning viewpoint (I have heard people refer to it as the “Daily Worker” or worse). The NYT seldom apologizes for its opinions that are often injected into their daily articles. Only a few decades ago, fact finding and verification used to be instilled in every newspaper as a standard operating procedure. However, today there seems to be a broader latitude for the writer in a recent article criticizing Walmart.

In terms of transparency, the NYT will not be accused of being “fair’ nor “balanced” in their opinions or reporting. For the public at large, I suggest they would consider their writings are often dubious and out of touch with the real world, especially with the public comments shown both on the Walmart blog and LinkedIn.

But what is even more peculiar is that NYT seldom writes about Corporate Social Responsibility, let alone Sustainability. Matt Polsky, senior fellow for sustainability innovation and multidisciplinary thought at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Institute for Sustainable Enterprise, has written several times in GreenBiz and posed a key question: “Where is sustainability in The New York Times?”. For a good read, please follow this link to his article: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/09/20/where-sustainability-new-york-times

Obviously, what is printed in the paper is the reflection of the mind set of the values of the enterprise, for they are a business, based on sensationalization, to increase their revenue, not for “truth or a cause”.

David Tovar, Vice President, Walmart Corporate Communications, used the third option to cleverly and clearly point out the inaccuracies of NYT article, “The Corporate Daddy”, and simultaneously protected Walmart’s brand image. His preamble provided the framework. By classifying the article as the “first draft”, Tovar took the high road as the mentor, not a critic. This was a “lesson” for writer and included the bold red letting.

Whether the writer was unaware of Walmart’s commitment to Sustainability, which includes its internal stakeholders, is not obvious. However, Walmart has demonstrated that revenues can increase, costs can decrease, social issues address and environmental issues reduced. They have impacted multiple industries (i.e. beef, fish, gold, diamonds, etc.). Walmart influenced those entire supply chains and encouraged industry certifications to limit over consumption and promote sustainable practices and resources. Their actions have been documented in multiple studies and white papers as to what a very large multinational corporation can accomplish when refocused and aligned to Sustainability principles.

Please take a few minutes and read what “lessons” Tovar wrote and clarified for the NYT. Many people with common business sense will probably applaud this approach. For it provides flexibility and other strategic choices in confronting bias and unfounded accusations. Clever indeed and an approach to emulate: http://blog.walmart.com/fact-check-the-new-york-times-the-corporate-daddy

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