Walmart Stands Firm After Haters Ambush Shareholders Meeting Over Opposition To “Religious Freedom” Laws

Just as they did at PepsiCo’s shareholders meeting in North Carolina last month, anti-LGBT activists from the National Center for Public Policy Research ambushed Walmart executives at yesterday’s annual shareholders meeting in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the Duggar clan infamously launched its attacks on a local pro-LGBT civil rights ordinance.

The group demanded that Walmart issued a report explaining its “hypocrisy” in standing against so-called “religious freedom” laws in the United States while operating in foreign nations with long-existing and often brutal anti-LGBT laws. Here’s part of what their representative said at the meeting:

Corporations and the mainstream media have expressed concern that religious freedom laws will lead to discrimination, in part, against homosexuals. There is zero evidence for this concern. These laws only require the government to avoid interfering with religious freedom if it can do so while still achieving important government goals – one of which, in every state of the union, is outlawing discrimination. While speaking in opposition to longstanding principles protecting religious freedom, [Walmart CEO Doug] McMillon extolled the virtues of diversity and inclusion. Walmart operates in nations where homosexuality is outlawed. In some of those countries, homosexual acts are punishable by death. Women have almost no rights in some of these places. And try getting a fair trial in many of these nations. What’s diverse and inclusive about that?

As the group was speaking on behalf of some actual Walmart shareholders, their anti-LGBT resolution was posted in the company’s proxy statement. (Pages 87 and 88.) Here is a portion of Walmart’s formal response:

One of the basic beliefs upon which Sam Walton founded our company is “respect for the individual.” We believe in treating each other with respect, whether it is a co-worker, supplier, customer or anyone doing business with us. This means treating one another with fairness and courtesy in all of our interactions in the workplace. Furthermore, we are committed to maintaining a diverse workforce and an inclusive work environment.

Walmart does not discriminate in employment, employment-related decisions or in business dealings on the basis of an individual’s race, color, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability, ethnicity, national origin, veteran status, marital status, pregnancy or any other status protected by law or local policy.

The proposal requests a report on our guidelines for selecting countries for our operations. The selection of where we conduct business is based on a wide range of factors relating to our overall business strategies, but our Company’s basic values and principles apply everywhere we do business. We believe that our company’s commitment to human rights already is demonstrated by our transparency and leadership as described above and as can be explored in further detail on our corporate website. Accordingly, we believe the requested report is unnecessary and would not provide meaningful information to shareholders.

Note that Walmart makes no mention of gender identity. Last month the retail giant rebuffed the New York Daily News despite multiple requests for clarity on their position on transgender rights.