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Walmart CEO Doug McMillon: Role of companies

Pandemic has reinforced belief and commitment that companies need to help all stakeholders, says Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.

Video Transcript

DOUG MCMILLON: I bet it's changed just about everybody in some way. And when I think about what I've learned, you know, the two words that come to the top of the list for me are courage and speed. And what I've seen from our associates and our leadership team related to those two things has been super impressive.

And so I think I've learned even more to let people move quickly, think big, and not let bureaucracy slow us down, and don't sweat some of the small stuff, just get on with the things that are most important. And I think we've moved faster as an organization as a result, and that's changed me as a leader.

- Well let's zoom out. Just from your perch atop the business roundtable, how do you think the pandemic will change American business?

DOUG MCMILLON: American business was already focused on multi-stakeholder capitalism, and I think the pandemic has only reinforced how we all feel about that. This argument over what's the role of a company? Is it to just make profit, or is it to serve not only financial shareholders, but also serve communities.

Take steps to protect the planet, make sure that your associates are well compensated and taken care of in other ways, serve the customer more effectively. We feel like that the multi-stakeholder approach is the smart way to approach business, and clearly when you look at it through the long term rather than the short term.

So, I think what the pandemic has done is reinforced, if you take BRT, for example, the statement that we made on corporate purpose last year, reinforced our commitment to that, our belief in that. And hopefully, through the pandemic, what Americans are seeing is that companies are actually walking that talk. You know, we are doing things that help all of the stakeholders in this equation, we're being systemic thinkers, not just focused on one set of stakeholders.

- And Doug, real quickly before I let you go, I just want to go back to the holidays. Will this be a good holiday season?

DOUG MCMILLON: I think it will. I think people want to celebrate the holiday, and I think hopefully, families will take steps to do that in a safe manner. But we all need some love and joy, and this time of year brings those things to being top of mind. And I think we'll find a way to celebrate it, and I think it'll end up being a good year. It'll be unique, but I think it'll be a good year.