Monday 27 May 2019 1:55 pm

Walmart faces challenge over executive pay and harassment policy

Asda owner Walmart is facing pressure to make changes to its executive pay and sexual harassment policy as two proxy advisers recommended shareholders vote against the company at its annual meeting next week.

Glass Lewis has recommended that shareholders vote against the retail giant’s executive pay proposals, saying “overall, the company paid more than its peers but performed worse than its peers”. Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon took home a $23.6m pay packet last year.

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Meanwhile, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) said investors at the meeting in Arkansas should back a shareholder proposal to strengthen the firm’s policy around sexual harassment in the workplace.

ISS said a vote for the proposal, which is opposed by Walmart’s board, could “help shareholders better assess the company’s management of related risks”.

“The proponents say that workplace sexual harassment can damage a company’s reputation and affect its share value, and is correlated with higher turnover and less employee productivity,” the advisory note added.

Bernie Sanders, a US Democratic presidential candidate, is planning to attend the annual meeting to push for higher wages for Walmart employees.

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“Walmart workers are sick and tired of being paid poverty wages, while the Walton family is worth over $170bn,” Sanders said on Twitter.

“I’m honoured to have been invited by Walmart workers to demand they have a seat on the company’s board.”

A Walmart spokesperson said: “The company will respond to specific shareholder proposals once they are formally presented at our 5 June shareholders meeting. Since the beginning, a cornerstone of Walmart’s culture has been engaging frontline associates in the management of the company, and we’re proud of the fact that 75 per cent of our US management associates began their career as frontline hourly associates.

“If Senator Sanders attends, we hope he will approach his visit not as a campaign stop, but as a constructive opportunity to learn about the many ways we’re working to provide increased economic opportunity, mobility and benefits to our associates — as well as our widely recognised leadership on environmental sustainability.”