Wal-Mart Chief Executive Officer Lee Scott will retire effective Feb. 1, 2009. He will be replaced by Mike Duke, who currently heads the company’s international operations. While Wal-Mart has made constructive efforts to tackle the health care crisis and establish more environmentally-friendly business practices under Scott’s tenure, it has also worked tirelessly to erode workers’ rights. Wal-Mart Watch released this statement today:
Wal-Mart’s announcement today of Mike Duke as the new Chief Executive Officer must be viewed in the context of the recent election. It represents an opportunity for Wal-Mart to change from the low-wage, low-benefit business model to one that will be more appealing to an Obama administration.
During his eight years at Wal-Mart’s helm, Lee Scott has made life harder for Wal-Mart workers. His failure to change the company’s business practices has resulted in the largest workplace gender discrimination lawsuit in the nation’s history and numerous wage and hour lawsuits. In addition, it has diminished Wal-Mart’s reputation and hampered its ability to grow into new regional and demographic markets.
Clearly, Wal-Mart’s board believes a new face is needed to lead the company in an Obama era. The choice of Mike Duke, Vice Chairman of the International Division, shows that the board believes that the future for Wal-Mart is overseas and not here at home, further demonstrating how seriously the company regards the challenges it will face to its business model in the years to come.