BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) plans to hire a director of global ethics, a restructured position aimed at ensuring the retailer's code of conduct is applied across a growing global network of more than 6,200 stores and 1.6 million employees in 15 countries, the company said Thursday.
The job advertisement comes a year after embarrassing revelations that Wal-Mart's No. 2 executive, Tom Coughlin, had been pilfering company money and goods for years for his personal benefit.
Coughlin, 57, pleaded guilty Jan. 31 to fraud and tax charges for stealing money, gift cards and merchandise from the world's largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark.
Wal-Mart also faces a class-action lawsuit in California claiming it discriminated against female employees and is a repeated target of ethics allegations by organized labor and other critics.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Sarah Clark said the ethics post was previously held by someone who held that job as well as other responsibilities.
"It has been restructured so that this person is going to look after only this (area), as opposed to this ... and other things," Clark said.
In a job description posted on the Web site of executive search consultants Martha Montag Brown & Associates, Wal-Mart said it's hunting an experienced professional to lead its global ethics strategy and oversee ethics-related infrastructure, administration and training.
The director would run the existing Global Ethics Office. The office was set up in 2004 to give employees advice on complying with ethics guidelines that were updated that year and to run an Ethics Helpline that allows anonymous reporting by employees, suppliers, customers or shareholders of violations, according to the Wal-Mart Web site.
"Able and willing to take a difficult or unpopular position if necessary," is one of the attributes listed under personal qualifications. Wal-Mart also wants candidates to have an "impeccable reputation for integrity and judgment" and to be politically savvy.