Asda Group Ltd

Both Asda, and its owner Walmart, have been the focus of multiple news exposés, from slavery in the Walmart prawn supply chain, to accusations of discrimination by Asda employees.  Do its low prices come at too high a cost?

People

Asda and its owner Walmart face several accusations of employee descrimination.

Lawyers acting on behalf of 15,000 current and past ASDA employees have brought an equal pay claim against the company.

In 2016 9,500 women lodged initial claims alleging that their roles as shopfloor workers were seen as 'women's work' and were paid less than equivalent work carried out by their male colleagues in the company's warehouses.

The article published in The Independent in October 2017 stated that the equal pay case would be heard that month, but no information about a verdict could yet be found.

In December 2016 it was reported on the New York Times website that Walmart had settled a lawsuit that accused the company of discriminating against gay and lesbian employees when it denied health insurance benefits to same-sex spouses.

Walmart was said to be setting aside $7.5 million, mostly to compensate employees.

In December 2016 it was reported on the National Law Review website that Walmart Stores Inc. would pay a former employee $75,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The lawsuit charged Walmart with failing to accommodate Nancy Stack, a cancer survivor with physical limitations, and subjecting her to harassment based on her disability.

Environment

Walmart has received criticism over likely deforestation in its supply chain. 

In September 2016, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) rated 13 companies on measures taken to prevent deforestation in South America. Tropical forests, notably those in South America, are often cleared for use in beef production.

Companies sourcing beef from this area can prevent deforestation by working with suppliers and monitoring their own supply chains. However, UCS found that none of the 13 companies looked at had strong policies in this area.

The report scored Walmart a 52 out of a possible 100 for its deforestation policy, meaning that the company’s approach was considered to be limited  -  they may have profited from selling “deforestation-risk beef”. 

Animals

Both ASDA and Walmart were found to sell several products associated with animals rights issues.

Both companies sold meat and dairy products that were not labelled as organic or free-range.

In 2017 Asda was also found to sell leather and angora products, despite having a policy dated to August 2015, which stated that it would faze out the sale of angora. As this policy did not appear to have been enforced and could not be found on the company’s website, it was considered to be outdated.

Asda received Ethical Consumer’s middle rating for Animal Testing because it had a fixed cut-off date for ingredients in its own cosmetic and household products, but continued to sell brands known to test on animals.

Walmart, however, received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating, because no animal testing policy was found, despite selling products widely tested on animals.

Politics

Asda was criticised for its treatment of small suppliers. 

According to an article published on the Guardian website on 27 June 2016, the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) had surveyed supermarket suppliers on how they were treated by the UK’s 10 major supermarket chains.

Asda had been rated by suppliers as one of the three worst supermarkets in the survey, as 19% of suppliers said that Asda rarely or never complied with the Groceries Code. Suppliers labelled Asda as the supermarket where behaviour had worsened the most in the past year. Nearly a quarter of its suppliers who were questioned said Asda’s compliance with the industry code had worsened.

In February 2017, Ethical Consumer viewed Walmart Stores Inc.'s lobbying activity on Opensecrets.org. This stated that in 2016 the company had spent $6,800,000 on lobbying and made $2,483,837 in political donations.  In 2015-2016 67 out of 85 Walmart Stores lobbyists were said to have previously held government jobs.

Image: Asda
  • Ethical Consumer Best Buy: No
  • Boycotts: No

Company information

Company Ethiscore

Company Address:

Asda Group Ltd UK Address Company Address
Asda House
Southbank
Great Wilson Street
Leeds
LS11 5AD
England
  • Annual revenue: 22.4 billion

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