Wal-Mart Shareholders Urge Disclosure of Stock Grants by Race, Gender

For Immediate Release - May 31, 2007

Wal-Mart Shareholders Urge Disclosure of Stock Grants by Race & Gender

Question: Is there a Glass Ceiling?

At the Wal-Mart annual meeting on Friday, June 1, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Responsible Wealth shareholders will challenge management on whether they are creating a glass ceiling of gender and race, and will ask the company to report on how equitably its perks are distributed.

A Responsible Wealth shareholder resolution that received over 15% of the vote in previous years - unusually high at a company with so much stock closely held by family members and management - will once again come to a vote, asking the company to disclose the race and gender breakdown of those receiving stock options and restricted stock.

The resolution is online at: http://responsiblewealth.org/shareholder/2007/wal-mart.html.
Responsible Wealth members have presented a similar resolution every year for the past three years.

"The information we seek on stock options through our resolution is important in determining whether the company is being fair to women and people of color. In light of increased public scrutiny of and lawsuits against Wal-Mart, the report we propose will help all stakeholders determine whether there's a glass ceiling in employee equity compensation at Wal-Mart. A clearer understanding of Wal-Mart's policies will help prevent potential liabilities for the company down the road," said Mike Lapham, Director of Responsible Wealth.

Over the past three years, between 4.8% and 18.2% of options awarded each year went to the five highest paid officers, who make up .000003% of the company's employees.

Of the top five officers over the past three years, none have been women, and only since 2005 has one of the officers been non-white.

Wal-Mart's opposition statement contends that producing this report is unnecessary because the company's appointed committees - the Compensation, Nominating and Governance Committee (CNGC) and the Stock Option Committee (SOC) - are successful in meeting the company's diversity goals. The currently-in-force Management Incentive Plan states that an officer's annual incentive payment can be reduced by up to 15 percent for not meeting diversity goals. In fiscal year 2007, the annual proxy statement says that no Executive Officer's incentive payment was reduced.

Larry Brown, a researcher for Responsible Wealth who will read a statement in support of the resolution at the June 1 shareholder meeting, commented, "The CNGC is made up of M. Michele Burns (white woman), Douglas N. Daft (white), John D. Opie (white), Jose H. Villarreal (Latino) and Linda S. Wolf (white woman), while the SOC is made up of David D. Glass, H. Lee Scott, Jr. and S. Robson Walton (all white men). You can look at their pictures on Wal-Mart's own website. Based on this lack of diversity, employees and shareholders have reason to question how their decisions affect Wal-Mart employees, the majority of whom are women and people of color."

"We're simply advocating for what many large U.S. companies are already doing - distributing options broadly among employees," says Brown. "Wealth generated from stock options allows employees - hard-working people who are the nuts and bolts contributors to the company's success - to fund a family member's college education, make a down payment on a house, provide for a comfortable retirement or establish a reserve pool for emergencies."

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Responsible Wealth, a project of United for a Fair Economy, is a national network of affluent Americans who are concerned about deepening economic inequality and advocate widespread prosperity. Learn more at http://www.responsiblewealth.org

 

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