Walmart Targets Women-owned Businesses

Friday, September 23, 2011

Walmart says it has decided to access services and goods from women, including Africa, after being accused of gender discrimination in the US.

The US Supreme Court threw out the gender-discrimination lawsuit against Walmart, but the bad press it generated has led the US retailer to change some of its buying rules.

In 2001 a number of previous female employees of Walmart decided to sue the retailer.

The world’s biggest retailer opposed the action which after a decade, eventually led to the case being rejected by the Court.

Stung by the action, earlier this month Walmart announced it was considering how to empower women more effectively by doubling the money it spends with women-owned businesses.

Extra training would also be provided, while the company announced its hiring policy would be altered to improve the number of minorities it would employ, particularly in the US.

The company has also bought into local retailer, Massmart in a deal that is opposed by the SA government and unions.

Wal-Mart now employs over 2 million people worldwide, and more than half of its workers are women.

While already spending over $2,5bn with women’s companies, it plans to increase that spend to $5bn by 2016 in the US alone, and doubling its international female suppliers. is to launch a page which features products from almost 24 countries including women who work in cooperatives and own small businesses.

The goods which will be available next year include jewellery from Guatemala, Thailand and Ethiopia, coffee from Central and South America, and dresses from Kenya.

Source: Business Day (link opens in a new window)