Walmart's image man on the company's PR challenges

Walmart is losing its image man. Leslie Dach, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart, will be stepping down this summer after seven years on the job.

Walmart is losing its image man. Leslie Dach, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart, will be stepping down this summer after seven years on the job.

As the biggest private employer in America, Walmart has the ability to have a significant impact -- good and bad -- in the lives of workers and shoppers in the U.S. and abroad. Dach, who many credit with improving the company's public appearance, sees this as the promise of Walmart. But, he says his work is not just about making the company look good.

"It's made us a stronger business and it's helped us save money," Dach says, noting Walmart's sustainability efforts. "Through that we can save over a billion dollars in our energy bills, and we can return that in lower prices to our customer."

With controversy over its labor practices and bribery allegations in Mexico, Walmart has some serious public relations challenges. Dach says his biggest is cynicism.

"People are looking for a bad motive, they believe that we do these things simply for public relations," Dach says, adding that expectations have been another issue. "As the company got bigger, it didn't always grasp that people had bigger expectations of it."

To hear more about Dach's work at Walmart, click on the audio player above.


About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.
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I listened to this segment fully appreciating the irony of this fellow leaving WalMart after seven years.
My ex, who happens to be a disabled Viet Nam era veteran, worked at Walmart for nearly 10 years. She was then moved to the express lines, where a cashier's scan rate goes down because the number of items per customer decreases. She was then fired for reduced efficiency. One of our friends works in the HR at that store and says that she was actually let go because at 10 years she would have been vested in the retirement system. That was about nine years ago and since then I have never found it necessary to step foot in a WalMart.
In response to one of the other commenters, the VA provides health services to a number of categories of veterans, but as a rule, unless you sustained an injury while in service and can prove it, you're not eligible for anything from the VA health system.

I agree 1,000% with the previous comments, adding only, why did Jeremy not ask:
about the number of Walmart employees on Medicaid;
whether part of the reason for hiring military veterans is that presumably they already have insurance through the VA;
and, what percentage of Walmart's items are actually "made in the USA" since the man mentioned that.

It was hard to take this "report" seriously as anything other than advocacy for Walmart.

Funny, I had pretty much the same reaction. I tuned in late and I assumed I missed all the hard-hitting questions about Walmart's reliance on corporate welfare.

Sadly, this was no more than a puff piece.

Marketplace Morning Report

I listened to your interview with outgoing Walmart PR Master Leslie Dach.
As the interview went on he recounted the remaking of Walmart's public image under his guidance. He certainly was interesting to listen to. He recounted the challenges of the higher expectations the public has of large, and here we are speaking of *very* large organizations.

This had me at the edge of my seat! Here! Jeremy is going to ask difficult questions! In what order? I wondered.

Would he ask about reports that new employees are advised, regarding signing up for Food Stamps?

Would he ask about the disproportionate numbers of male management, and Walmart's failure to elevate capable women?

Would he ask about making sure that hourly employees would work less than full time to avoid the need to provide benefits?

Would he ask the Really Big Question? Why doesn't Walmart, the largest and most successful retailer in the history of the Planet, not pay its hard working employees a LIVING WAGE?

But NO. You Jeremy, lost a rare opportunity to ask the MAN IN CHARGE of the public image of Walmart the question that is on Joe Average American's mind.

Epic Fail.  I guess he had you in a Vulcan Mind Meld.

Charley Harvey


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