Walmart shareholders meet virtually

This undated file photo shows Walmart's sign in front of its Bentonville headquarters.
This undated file photo shows Walmart's sign in front of its Bentonville headquarters.

Walmart Inc.'s shareholders voted on 10 proposals Wednesday at their annual business meeting, which was held virtually for the third year in a row.

They also heard from the sister of a North Little Rock store employee who died in January after being found lying unresponsive on the store's bathroom floor.

Audio of the 30-minute meeting was webcast live, although only shareholders were allowed to vote.

The Bentonville-based retailer has traditionally held the meeting in Northwest Arkansas but opted to meet virtually because of the pandemic. In the virtual format, shareholders eligible to vote were still able to attend, ask questions and cast their votes using an online link.

Of the 10 proposals, voters considered seven that shareholders submitted. As in past years, voters rejected all of the shareholder proposals.

The shareholder proposals asked that Walmart: report on its meat suppliers' animal welfare practices; report on potential effects on the company of state policies that severely restrict reproductive rights; a report on the alignment of Walmart's racial justice goals and starting wages; a semi-annual report on the company's charitable contributions; a report on Walmart's lobbying activities and expenditures; and an audit and report on Walmart's effects on civil rights and non-discrimination issues and how those issues affect Walmart's business.

In addition, shareholder Cynthia Murray, a founding member of the worker advocacy group United for Respect, proposed that Walmart create a Pandemic Workforce Advisory Council. Made up of hourly employees, the council would advise the company's board on pandemic-related work force issues.

Murray invited Nicoshe James, the sister of the Walmart employee, Janikka Perry, found on the bathroom floor of the store where she worked, to present this proposal to shareholders.

In a pre-recorded statement, James blamed her sister's death on Walmart's policy of penalizing workers who call in sick or leave their shifts early because of illness. If a pandemic work force advisory council had been in place at the time, James said, "there would have been policies in place to support my sister's need for emergency assistance."

Walmart's statement opposing the proposal's adoption said the company thought it was unnecessary in light of current policy.

"We believe the company has already demonstrated that it took and continues to take appropriate measures in responding to the needs of our associates and customers during the covid-19 pandemic and because our associates already have many channels through which to communicate and express concerns. "

A preliminary tally showed shareholders approved annual compensation packages for Walmart's top executives. They also ratified Ernst & Young LLP as Walmart's independent accountants for fiscal 2023.

In addition, shareholders elected 11 nominees to a one-year term on Walmart's board: Cesar Conde; Timothy P. Flynn; Sarah J. Friar; Carla A. Harris; Thomas W. Horton; Marissa A. Mayer; Doug McMillon; Gregory B. Penner; Randall L. Stephenson; Rob Walton; and Steuart Walton.

Seven of the newly elected board members are independent.

Rachel Brand, Walmart's chief legal officer, said that final voting results will appear in a report to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A transcript of the event is to be posted at https:/

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