Shareholders File Challenge to Wal-Mart's Options Gap

Press Release
For immediate release-Nov. 16, 2005
Contact: Betsy Leondar-Wright,
(617) 423-2148 x113

Always Low Assets:

Shareholders File Challenge to Wal-Mart's Options Gap

Boston-Wal-Mart shareholders today filed a resolution with the company requesting public disclosure of who gets Wal-Mart stock options, broken down by race and gender.

In each of the last three years, between 4.8% and 13% of all Wal-Mart stock options went to the top five officers, who make up 0.0003 percent of the company's employees. All five are white men.

The filing of the resolution was timed to coincide with a national Wal-Mart Week of Higher Expectations.

In addition to Northstar Asset Management clients and other members of Responsible Wealth, the resolution was filed by Martha Burk, the director of the National Council of Women's Organizations' Corporate Accountability Project. Dr. Burk is best known for leading the effort to open the Augusta National Golf Club to women.

A second-generation Wal-Mart shareholder, Dr. Burk presented a similar resolution at last April's annual meeting. She said today, "I am still concerned that the wealth creation opportunities afforded by the company are disproportionately going to white men. The company needs to disclose the data."

Last year's resolution won 15% of the vote, an unusually high number given how much of the stock is owned by Walton family members and Wal-Mart's top management.

Margaret Covert, Shareholder Action Coordinator of NorthStar Asset Management, said, "Wal-Mart's emphasis on 'Always Low Prices' comes at a cost to employees working for always low wages. The tremendous profits that have enriched the Walton family and other major shareholders, if shared more broadly with all Wal-Mart workers, could mean health coverage and homeownership for those now lacking them."

Added Scott Klinger, co-director of Responsible Wealth, "In the last few weeks Wal-Mart has committed to greater transparency. This resolution is an invitation to uphold that commitment. Shareholders deserve to know which employees are being rewarded with stock options, and whether their company is contributing to the growing U.S. racial wealth divide."

A court decision is expected in coming months on Wal-Mart's appeal of the formation of a class for the largest gender discrimination lawsuit in history, filed by current and former women employees.

Responsible Wealth ( is a national network of affluent Americans who are concerned about deepening economic inequality and advocate widespread prosperity.