My Three Cents

Eight years ago, in a blog entitled “Truth is Cheaper in the Long Run,” I wrote that when you’ve done something wrong, it’s essential to tell the truth and — if you’re at fault — you should apologize and show remorse.  I added that public contrition alone is not sufficient.  “You have to learn from your mistake and take steps to prevent a recurrence of the problem.”

So I was very impressed with the way Walmart — #1 on the Fortune 500 list for the second consecutive year — played its part in a crisis that unfolded this past weekend.

It all began when stand-up comic Tracy Morgan, a Saturday Night Live alumnus and cast member on the hit show “30 Rock,” was critically injured when a Walmart truck, whose driver had reportedly not slept for more than 24 hours, crashed into the comedian’s limousine bus.  Photos from the scene showed a Walmart truck with substantial damage on the front.  In addition to Morgan, two others were very seriously injured and one died.  

I would have been disappointed, but not surprised, if Walmart had been reticent about responding to the tragedy…after all, in a crisis, most companies turn first to their attorneys for a measured response.

But Walmart did something different.  The company embraced transparency to build trust. 

Walmart CEO Bill Simon, swiftly released a statement:

“We’re praying for the family and friends of the passenger who lost his life in the terrible accident in New Jersey.  Our hearts go out to everyone involved and we hope those who were injured get the care that they need and make a full recovery. This is a tragedy and we are profoundly sorry that one of our trucks was involved. We are working quickly to understand what happened and are cooperating fully with law enforcement to aid their investigation.

“The facts are continuing to unfold. If it’s determined that our truck caused the accident, Walmart will take full responsibility.  Safety is our absolute highest priority, but that is no comfort whatsoever to the families and friends who are suffering today. We offer them our deepest condolences. We can’t change what happened, but we will do what’s right for the family of the victim and the survivors in the days and weeks ahead.”

No quibbling.  No equivocation.  No beating around the bush.  “We are profoundly sorry….We will do what’s right.”

In my opinion, Walmart has made a major deposit in the “trust bank,” a deposit that can be redeemed when hard times come.

thought leadership


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