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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Was Hillary Clinton the Mother Theresa of Walmart?

Picture courtesy of the White House

The simple answer to the question of this post is an out right no. As the wife of the Governor of Arkansas she was on the list of candidates of woman that chose to serve on the board of Walmart. It by no means didn’t hurt that she was also a very large contributor to the Rose law firm that oversaw many legal cases for the smiley face mega retailer.

Which reminds me that they stole the smiley face from Worcester, MA own Harvey Ball. I have to give credit to my eleven year old daughter for that enlightenment.

Back in the day when the wife of Governor Bill Clinton was on the Board of Directors of Walmart she did have some influence on the corporations directions no matter how you look at it. However much like most Boards that oversee any corporation in America their power is strictly limited. Boards can suggest directions for the corporation to move in and that is it. Yes a Board of Directors can direct CEO’s to progressively move the company one way or the other but they can not over rule the likes of a CEO like Sam Walton.

Over at the New York Times they have this near miss slam on Senator Clinton and frankly the piece makes me reconsider her legitimate candidacy for the Presidency…

Clinton Moved Wal-Mart Board, but Only So Far

Published: May 20, 2007

In 1986, Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, had a problem. He was under growing pressure from shareholders — and his wife, Helen — to appoint a woman to the company’s 15-member board of directors.

So Mr. Walton turned to a young lawyer who just happened to be married to the governor of Arkansas, where Wal-Mart is based: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton’s six-year tenure as a director of Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest company, remains a little known chapter in her closely scrutinized career. And it is little known for a reason. Mrs. Clinton rarely, if ever, discusses it, leaving her board membership out of her speeches and off her campaign Web site.

Fellow board members and company executives, who have not spoken publicly about her role at Wal-Mart, say Mrs. Clinton used her position to champion personal causes, like the need for more women in management and a comprehensive environmental program, despite being Wal-Mart’s only female director, the youngest and arguably the least experienced in business. On other topics, like Wal-Mart’s vehement anti-unionism, for example, she was largely silent, they said.
- New York Times

I happen to be of the opinion that change in any large corporation has to start with one voice and I honestly believe that Hillary Clinton was that first voice at Walmart. My first point would be that she was the first woman on the Board of Directors for Walmart and she fought the battles she knew that she could possibly win. Woman in the workplace and especially at senior management levels was unheard of before her tenure at Walmart.

Environmental impact and footprint issues for new stores was her idea and suggestion as a member of the Board of Directors for Walmart. How many other issues did she have suggestive power and the conviction to know that it was the fight of that time that could be won by just one woman among many powerful men at Walmart? Suggestion is the key word here.

Anyone that logically thinks that a young respected woman attorney that was also the Governor of Arkansas wife serving on the board of Walmart with 14 other men, most of which agreed with Sam Walton that unions were bad for the business, was going to flip the board and the Chairman’s opinion has no clue as to how true business runs.

Sam Walton ran his business as he chose to do so. If there was any influence as to how he ran his business it came to him from directly across the dinner table and from his wife Helen. Not since his death has the business chosen to even begin to acclimate itself to acceptable business ethics and even then they still miss the mark by a couple thousand yards.

Blaming Hillary Clinton for Sam Walton’s corporation’s (Walmart) long standing opinion against unions is simply ridiculous.


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