NEW YORK — Lee Scott, the outgoing chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, asked business leaders to embrace such initiatives as universal health care, renewable energy and immigration reform during a presentation to attendees at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show here yesterday.
“In business, we have an obligation to society,” he said, adding that those issues should not be left “for our children and grandchildren” to face.
At times sounding like a supporter of president-elect Obama, Scott also called for “change” in Washington and an end to partisan rancor in government, in the interest of making progress on important issues.
“People are tired of Democrat vs. Republican, conservative vs. liberal,” he said, noting that business should be able to find ways to work with both sides of Congress and with non-governmental organizations to implement needed societal reforms.
Asked about his economic outlook for 2009, Scott said he sees a “fundamental change” in consumers’ attitude toward spending.
“People have money — they are just very careful about what they spend it on,” he said, noting that flat-screen TVs are still selling well at Wal-Mart despite the recession. “You have to be in perfect sync with your customers.”
His speech was his last as CEO of Wal-Mart, he said. As previously reported, Mike Duke is scheduled to succeed him as CEO next month.
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