I received an email from one of my oldest and dearest friends before the holidays. I finally had a chance to respond this week. She passed on a note that went something like this. "I assume you have all seen the reports about how Sears is treating its reservist employees who are called up to serve our country? By law, companies are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more. Usually, people take a big pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being called up...Sears is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all called up reservist employees for up to two years. I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution."
Let me stop here. We have all heard and read the stories about those Americans who are called up to go to Iraq, who have to file for bankruptcy, lose their house or their car, or their spouse when the financial pressures get overwhelming. This is of course, backwards. How can we continue to give multi-million dollar bonuses to CEO's of companies and not even give our soldiers enough money to pay their bills while they put their lives at risk? Those courageous people who fight for our freedom, no matter how we feel about this war, should be treated better. Not only are they fighting to stay alive, but have to worry about how their bills get paid and whether they will have a job when they return. We CAN and should do better than that in the United States. Our behavior to our soldiers should be of deep embarrassment to this country and to corporate America. I am not sure it even registers to most people what we put or soldiers through.
After reading her email regarding SEARS, I decided to find out if this was fact or fiction. It's is a great story...but is it true? The original writer of this email had also sent a note to Sears to find out how accurate this was.
They sent the following email to the Sears Customer Ser vice Department:
"I received this email and I would like to know if it is true. If it is, the
Internet may have just become one very good source of advertisement for
your store. I know I would go out of my way to buy products from Sears
instead of another store for a like item even if it was cheaper at the
other store. Their answer came back as follows:
Thank you for contacting Sears. The information is factual. We appreciate your positive feedback. Sears regards service to our country as one of greatest sacrifices our young men and women can make. We are happy to do our part to lessen the burden they bear at this time.
Sears Customer Care
Okay, so I might be a little cynical. This could be one astute marketing team's great idea for a campaign. I still needed to find out the answer for myself. Besides, I can't blog about something without some fact-checking. I need to talk to someone at Sears myself. I called Sears Customer Care Wednesday night at about 9:30 pm. It was when my three year old finally conked out. I wasn't sure that anyone would even answer, let alone not be from some India call center. The customer care person responded pleasantly. I told him why I had called and he verified that it indeed was true.
Okay, here it is. FACT: A corporation that cares about and shows by their actions their respect and commitment to employees. A company who actually has put their money behind their beliefs. By their actions, and beliefs, "service to our country as one of the greatest sacrifices our young men and women can make" Sears is showing exemplary leadership. We can all talk about how companies have foregone corporate responsibility and cater only to the shareholders. We can continue to moan about CEO'S getting multi-million dollar bonuses or we can do something about it.
Here is a company with the courage and the commitment to do the right thing. And they followed through. Think about it. According to About (part of the New York Times) The US retail industry generates $3.8 trillion in retail sales annually. If all of us just took one of those trips to SEARS to say thank you-imagine what that could produce? Not only are you supporting our troops, but a company that has values. The stores have a huge selection of products and good prices. Go shop at Sears, and THANK THEM as a citizen for being a good corporation. We need more of them. You have the power to put your money where your mouth is. It's in your hands now. I'm going shopping.