Go Walmart with Your Social Impact Career

Without fail, students are always asking me how and where to apply their talents, knowledge and passion to build a world of social and economic justice.  Where should they work?  What should they do?

Consider an economic development enterprise already at scale:

  • Funding 2.1 million jobs for lower-income, essentially unskilled workers, in over 100 countries, making it the world’s largest job creator.  (The Chinese Army ranks second.)

A fairly reliable parlor game for progressives is trash talking the world’s second largest company, Walmart.  (Royal Dutch Shell is first.)  Poor environmental stewardshipoutsourcinganimal crueltydestroying Main Street blight its record and reputation.

Anti-union Walmart has a lot to answer for, especially on the economic justice front.  Wages and benefits are low.  Lawsuits over the callous treatment of workers proliferate daily.

Tough enough to be a Walmart social intrapreneur?  Ready to promote social and economic justice from inside the belly of the beast?

No question, but that it is easier on the soul to work for a NGO, a social enterprise or an economic development agency.  Purity is emotionally safe.

On the other hand, as GuideStar CEO Jacob Harold goads in an iOnPoverty video, “Even bankers can have a moral compass.”

The human brain inescapably categorizes: a fundamental survival skill for ordering the world around us — for making mostly innocent stereotypes – for predicting future life patterns that our mind thinks it knows.  Health clinics, schools, microfinance banks, agricultural cooperatives.  Government agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations.  Big business versus small enterprise.

Say a Walmart social intrapreneur – someone like you – over time wins a modest $0.25 per hour wage increase for workers — $520 per lower-income worker – about a 2-3% increase.  Company-wide, you just won about $1 billion for Walmart’s frontline labor force.  How does that accomplishment compare to your current societal impact?

If you are up for a demanding, complex job as a social impact double agent, go BIG.

About Jonathan C. Lewis

Host/Founder, iOnPoverty

Posted on March 27, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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