Risk & Compliance

Wanted: Wal-Mart Global Ethics Czar

Background in accounting and financial integrity would be a plus.
Stephen TaubMarch 3, 2006

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. wants to hire a director of global ethics. And it looks as if a finance type would have an inside track for the job.

Among the requirements for the post listed in an online job description, candidates must have “a preference for training or expertise in accounting, audit, finance and financial integrity issues,” as well as an MBA, CPA, or other advanced degree.

Until now, the job was performed by an official who had other responsibilities, Wal-Mart representative Sarah Clark told the Associated Press. “It has been restructured so that this person is going to look after only this [area],” she said.

For years, the world’s largest retailer has been a lightning rod for activists and critics of big business who have questioned such things as the company’s employee relations, benefits policies, and supplier relationships.

Further, Wal-Mart was embroiled in scandal when news emerged that top executive Tom Coughlin took company money and goods for his personal use, according to the AP. On January 31, he pleaded guilty to fraud and tax charges for stealing money, gift cards, and merchandise from the company.

The job description posted on the Website of executive-search consultants Martha Montag Brown & Associates, first reported the wire services, states that the new ethics director will lead the company’s global ethics strategy and oversee ethics-related infrastructure, administration, and training. “The Director plays a critical strategic role by promoting ethical behavior globally, facilitating proper decision-making, and ensuring that ethics is embedded into key business processes,” it adds.

The job description asks for someone with “significant and progressive experience in corporate business ethics, and [who is] a strategic thinker committed to embedding ethics into all aspects of Wal-Mart’s business processes.” The company is also looking for a person with “an impeccable reputation for integrity and judgment.”

The new ethics chief will have frequent and informal confabs with many senior managers, including the chief executive officer, and will report to Wal-Mart’s vice president of corporate responsibility and ethics.