April fool 2011 :-)
Walmart President and CEO Mike Duke announced that the world’s largest retail chain will create a company-wide set of requirements and qualifications for specific store positions, promotions and raises. It is not a coincidence that Scott made the announcement as the Supreme Court hears the case against Walmart alleging discrimination against female employees. The case, Walmart Stores Inc. v. Betty Dukes, has been called the “largest class action lawsuit in U.S. history” and the “largest sex-discrimination class-action lawsuit ever.” Up to 1.5 million female employees, current and former, are represented by the lawsuit. Betty Dukes filed the lawsuit in 2001.
“We know we lag behind our competitors when it comes to women in management, and that needs to change,” Duke said. “That is why we are creating a company-wide policy. All stores will be required to follow the policy. We are confident that the percentage of women in management will increase as stores adhere to the policy.”
The largest private employer in the U.S., Walmart has over 3,400 department stores in the U.S. Walmart has so many stores in the U.S. that the average Walmart store is within 30 miles of the next store. Female employees make up over 72 percent of the hourly sales employees, according to the lawsuit, but only one-third of management positions. Women make up less than 10 percent of all stores managers, and about four percent of all district managers. There are not many female regional managers, and there is only one woman among the company’s 20 executive officers. Among Walmart’s 20 competitors women make up over 56 percent of management.
An unnamed source within Walmart told Triple Pundit that the company created the new policy in order to thwart the lawsuit. “The timing of the announcement says it all,” the source said. However, the source said that “whatever the reason, the new policy is a good idea…often times, it takes something like a lawsuit for a company to change.”
The website, WakeUpWalmart.com posted a response to the announcement. “We are pleased that Walmart has decided to create and institute a policy concerning promotions,” the website stated.
Time will tell if Walmart’s new policy will help increase the percentage of women in management. It is worth noting that Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. CEO said that Walmart is “committed to increasing the amount of women in management.” Perhaps Walmart can wield its considerable influence to help break the proverbial glass ceiling.