Walmart Makes Pledge to Women

Discussion
Sep 15, 2011
George Anderson

Walmart announced the launch of a major new public relations initiative aimed to help deal with some of the negative publicity around its treatment of female employees, specifically related to a class-action suit brought against the chain, which was later dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court this year.

"Helping more women live better is a defining issue for our business and our world," said Mike Duke, president and CEO of Walmart, in a statement. "We’re stepping up our efforts to help educate, source from and open markets for women around the world. We want women to view us as a retailer that is relevant to them and cares about them. We want them to be leading suppliers, managers and loyal customers."

Walmart has pledged to double the amount of business it conducts with women-owned businesses to $20 billion and provide more than $100 million in grants to train female workers worlwide.  The retailer has said it will partner with a number of non-governmental organizations in the endeavor.

"Walmart’s global women’s initiative has the potential to be a game-changer for women and for economic growth," said Melanne Verveer, U.S. ambassador at large for Global Women’s Issues. "By tapping its core competencies as a global retailer, Walmart will empower more women to access markets and develop careers in the global supply chain, transforming their lives and the lives of their families."

Discussion Question: What is your assessment of Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative? What specific actions would you like to see included?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

10 Comments on "Walmart Makes Pledge to Women"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
David Biernbaum
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Mike Duke is doing the right thing to help change Walmart’s image. Supporting businesses owned by women is a very solid idea if it’s truly implemented all the way throughout the company, including to and through its buyers who determine product selection.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
9 years 8 months ago

I will chalk this up to most of Walmart’s other initiatives – PR Fluff. Here in Canada they have a huge push for sustainability and environmental friendliness. While most other retailers are charging for plastic bags (which are mother nature’s worst enemy), Walmart will gladly hand you 10 extra plastic bags if you ask (unscientific experiment at 3 different Wals in the York Region). Then take a drive around back of the store at closing time and you will see how ‘environmentally friendly’ they are. They should look at empowering their front line work force first as opposed to just empowering women.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
9 years 8 months ago

Women are very important to Walmart. So WM is now doing what they have to do to try to win female loyalty and prove that Walmart is relevant to them and their families … particularly in light of past class action law suits.

The best PR action to prove WM’s sincerity is to elect a woman as its operating president and/or replace Mike Duke as CEO in the future. But there are many other ingredients necessary to make women think WM is on their side. Thus the best business paradigm in this matter will probably require more than a pledge.

Joan Treistman
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

What irks me about this program is the opening statement: “Walmart announced the launch of a major new public relations initiative.” Remember the old adage, “The secret to success is sincerity. Once you know how to fake it you’ve got it made.”

The emphasis on women reinforces that Walmart differentiates males and females in a way that is not complimentary to women. I would applaud an announcement that was more egalitarian underlining their commitment to all, perhaps modifying their statement and initiative to read, “Helping more people live better is a defining issue for our business and our world.”

I believe such a program would do more for women and Walmart than a woman-focused initiative. The push for women sounds like PR, not HR.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Good idea to gain some PR with women. But the last few times I have been in any Walmart, the majority of shoppers are always women. I don’t think this will solve anything unless it is part of a commitment made to lessen any penalties they could have received over the recent class action law suits.

Warren Thayer
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Walmart’s press release does not call this a “public relations initiative,” but a “major initiative.” I don’t think this is splitting hairs. They’ve put together a plan to address past sins, and are announcing what it is and how they plan to implement it. I don’t know what else they could be expected to do right this minute. They’ve talked the talk; now they have to walk the walk. They know everyone will be watching. I hope Walmart, and other companies that have stifled (and are stifling) the contribution of women, will improve.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 8 months ago
I’ll bet the little ladies are just thrilled to hear this! The issue — as I remember it — was not how gender neutral Walmart was in its sourcing practices but rather how allegedly sexist the firm was with respect to its treatment of female workers. So…let’s see … $20 billion for the suppliers and $100 million for the workers… hmmm. Doron is right, this smells of PR fluff and Gene is right that if the commitment is real than we should see a woman as CEO of Walmart sometime in the near future. But, I want to come back to those women who will never make it to the boardroom, whom I believe were the women who raised the legal fuss in the first place. Where is the commitment to those women? It’s easy to train and recruit entry level workers. It’s even easy to softly tap on the glass ceiling with a rubber mallet, but what is Walmart really doing — on the store floor — for its current, and past, female workforce?… Read more »
Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
9 years 8 months ago

WMT is to be commended for this initiative. With their financial clout, I’m sure they will do a lot of good.

The sad fact is, however, that as long as there are politicians looking for convenient boogie men and class action lawyers looking for easy money, WMT will always be a target.

David Livingston
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

I think this is just for the press release. Walmart is simply recycling an old message. Business as usual. What I would like to see is Walmart stop treating women like they are handicapped and suggesting that they need some kind of extra help. If I was a woman I would be insulted.

Ben Ball
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Chalk me up in Ryan’s column on this one.

The first thing that struck me about the official Walmart statement was its focus on suppliers. The mention of internal efforts aimed at its own employees seemed almost superficial in comparison.

Even if it is just so much PR fluff (Joan Triestman’s line is priceless — I didn’t think there was an “old adage” that I hadn’t heard yet!) Walmart did not do their usual good job at framing the message on this one.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

What grade would give Walmart for the public relations value of its Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...