Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT): When Cheap Prices Are Actually Too Dear

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) is one electronics company that’s admirably gotten ahead of the curve in dealing with and avoiding the use of conflict minerals, whose mining is often linked to violence and, basically, slave labor.

Suppliers: A silent but important stakeholder
Supplier issues represent a real risk to investors. That risk doesn’t just relate to the public relations nightmares that these companies face, but also a very real hint that bottom-line thinking gone brutal can result in real brutality.

On the other hand, conscious capitalism, probably most vocally evangelized by Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM)’s founder and co-CEO John Mackey, includes suppliers as one of companies’ essential stakeholders. This explains Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM)’ emphasis on its Whole Trade items, all of which give businesses, economies, and workers a leg up, fair wages, and better treatment than many suppliers previously hoped for.

In other words, there are better ways to do business. Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) has hardly been a poor stock for investors. Many of its customers seem to understand that its goods often provide value to the world that goes far beyond the simple price tag.

The accident in Bangladesh was an avoidable tragedy, and it reminds us of the poor treatment and work conditions for many people in developing countries.

It’s time that we investors acknowledge that many of our biggest companies rely on these suppliers in order to pass along the cheapest merchandise to customers and the highest profit margins for themselves.

Brutal bottom-line thinking is far more costly than many of us tend to realize. It’s time to use our technology, know-how, and innovation to push for better ways to do business — in every conceivable way.

The article When Cheap Prices Are Actually Too Dear originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Alyce Lomax.

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool recommends Intel, Nike, and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel, Nike, and Whole Foods Market.

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