Update: ABC News has gotten its hands on internal Wal-Mart videos that paint a rather unflattering picture of the company and how it treats women. The Wall Street Journal and Wal-Mart Watch have also dug into the issue. ABC reports:
From the tough anti-union talk to the wilder side of men in drag, videos of Wal-Mart corporate meetings are being sold to willing buyers, and the corporate behemoth is not happy about it.
The videos, thousands of them spanning three decades, are in the library of a production company in Lenexa, Kan. Flagler Productions Inc. was hired on a handshake deal by Wal-Mart in the 1970s to produce and film corporate sales meetings and other company events.
Watch two of the videos below. The first video shows a meeting of Wal-Mart employees prancing around a stage in drag. The second video features Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton during a 1987 shareholders meeting. "We know we haven't gotten as far as we'd like to be advancing women in our company. But we're very conscious of it," he says.Watch: ---- More on the videos.... According to the Wall Street Journal, a video treasure trove of Wal-Mart execs caught in unguarded moments is being floated around for sale by Flagler Productions. The Kansas-based company was originally hired by the corporate giant in the 1970s to film corporate sales meetings and other company functions. However....
In recent months, Flagler has opened its trove of some 15,000 Wal-Mart tapes to the outside world, with an eye toward selling clips. The material is proving irresistible to everyone from business historians and documentary filmmakers to plaintiffs lawyers and union organizers.
Among the revealing moments: A former executive vice president and board member challenges store managers in 2004 to continue his work opposing unionization. Male managers in drag lead thousands of co-workers in the company's corporate cheer. In another meeting, managers mock foolish or dangerous use of a product sold in its stores. In 1991, founder Sam Walton describes Hillary Clinton, then a Wal-Mart director, as "one of us."
The WSJ adds that ironically:
The video library might have remained under wraps if a new Wal-Mart executive hadn't decided to hire another company to stage a musical production for its 2006 stockholders' meeting. The decision sharply curbed Flagler's role. Wal-Mart dumped Flagler altogether as a producer in late 2006, nine days after Mr. Flagler sold the company for an undisclosed sum to two employees, Mary Lyn Villanueva and Gregory A. Pierce. The current owners say Wal-Mart accounted for more than 90% of Flagler's revenue. The company's bank called in a loan, and the pair dismissed their 16-person work force, Ms. Villanueva says. Flagler offered to sell the whole video archive to Wal-Mart for several million dollars, Ms. Villanueva says, although she won't disclose the exact price. Wal-Mart countered with an offer of $500,000, arguing the footage wouldn't be of interest elsewhere, the two owners say.
Naturally, anti-Wal-Mart blogs -- such as Wal-Mart Watch and Wake-Up Wal-Mart -- have been having a field day with the information, posting links to the WSJ video and as well as highlighting parody videos using the footage, such as the following: