Walmart’s 2018 shareholders meeting looks different.

This year, Walmart leadership and CEO Doug McMillon are removing the formal shareholder meeting from the main audience of over 20,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club workers in the Bud Walton arena. This means that shareholder comments and proposal votes, which include compensating McMillon $22.8 million, will be held in a smaller, controlled room, effectively silencing the majority of Walmart workers’ voices.

Oftentimes, in previous shareholder meeting years, when the business portion took place in front of the main 20,000-plus audience of workers, comments would include low wages and lack of benefits for Walmart workers, leading to cheers and dissent from the crowd of Walmart workers.

What could Walmart be hiding from its workers?

  1. During this year’s annual meeting, shareholders will approve Doug McMillon’s $22.8 million compensation package. Walmart has spent almost $400 million on executive compensation over the last 3 years.
  2. Walmart has also authorized $20 billion in share buybacks over the next two years, which boosts shares for stockholders, but does nothing to grow the company or increase worker wages, training, or benefits.
  3. As a result of Trump’s tax plan, Walmart will get a $2 billion tax break this year, but has committed less than half ($300 million) to wage increases.
  4. The Walton family is the wealthiest family in the U.S. with 7 heirs worth a total of $174 billion. They will receive approximately $3.2 billion in dividend payments in 2018.
  5. During this year’s annual, shareholders will also vote to add McDonald’s CEO Stephen J. Easterbrook to Walmart’s board of directors.
    • Easterbrook will receive $21.8 million in compensation as CEO of McDonald’s
    • McDonald’s median employee compensation is $7,017
    • It’s no coincidence that McDonald’s is also attempting to automate its workforce – the fast food chain plans to roll out touchscreen ordering at its 14,000 US locations
  6. McMillon has been quoted projecting minimal job growth and more automation, which could mean more layoffs.

What could Walmart be hiding from its shareholders?

  1. Walmart’s attempts at automation have been less than dazzling. It’s recent Scan & Go cashier-less app failed as well as its attempt at grocery delivery.
  2. Walmart has also been lackluster when it comes to e-commerce domination. It has scaled back its investment in Jet.com so much that website traffic is down 60 percent. Just two years ago, Walmart’s $3.3 billion purchase was hailed as a smart move to take down Amazon. Now, Walmart executives say it’s too expensive to attract customers to the Jet.com brand.
  3. Walmart continues to cut staff levels in stores.
  4. Walmart does not offer paid maternity or parental leave or employer provided health insurance to anyone working less than 30 hours per week. Approximately half of Walmart’s 1.1 million hourly workforce are part-time.
  5. According to Walmart’s 2018 Global Responsibility Report, women and people of color are still underrepresented at the management and executive level.
    • Women make up 55% of Walmart’s total U.S. workforce, yet only 43% are in management and only 30% are corporate officers
    • People of color make up 44% of Walmart’s total U.S. workforce, yet only 32% are in management and only 20% are corporate officers
  6. Walmart was ranked dead last in a customer satisfaction survey among top retailers in the U.S. last year. Also, Consumer Reports’ 2018 Grocery Store & Supermarket Ratings show Walmart is ranked dead last by readers out of 62 grocery stores and supermarkets. Store cleanliness, checkout speed, store brand quality, and local produce quantity, among other variables, all received negative ratings.