Every week, 140 million Americans shop at 4,692 Walmart stores in 50 states. There is arguably no other company in the United States that so tangibly touches more Americans of every political, racial and cultural stripe.
So when the company's chief executive, Doug McMillon, on Monday forcefully criticized President Trump's response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., he risked alienating as many customers as he might win over.
Mr. McMillon's remarks came during a week when many corporate titans publicly distanced themselves from the president by stepping down from his advisory councils. On Wednesday, a day after the president equated white nationalist hate groups with the demonstrators opposing them, the main council of chief executives, the Strategic and Policy Forum, agreed to disband.
Since the violence in Charlottesville, chief executives across corporate America have had to weigh the risks of taking a stand against the administration. Mr. McMillon himself, while harshly rebuking the president, initially opted not to step down from the Strategic and Policy Forum before it disbanded — an example of the delicate balance that corporate leaders try to strike when dealing with Mr. Trump.