Whether or not Wal-Mart is going to be found guilty in any of the discrimination lawsuits it is currently facing, one thing is for certain: Wal-Mart is feeling guilty. In the “Staffing at Wal-Mart” case study, we see evidence that supports the claim that women are treated differently than men in the work place. Wal-Mart, it seems, is trying to make amends.
After reading about Wal-Mart’s legal battle with gender discrimination, it seemed clear to me that there was a company wide issue and not just a managerial issue, as the corporate executives are preaching. If 2/3 of your managerial staff is male but 70% of your hourly wage employees are female (hourly wage employees get promoted to manager) then there is most definitely an issue with the promotion process. The other factor is that hourly wage employees make around $18,000 a year while managers make $50,000 a year. This becomes a huge issue when 70% of your employees making $18,000 a year are female while 2/3 of your employees making $50,000 a year are male. Clearly Wal-Mart has some Human Resources issues to figure out, and they need to do it quickly.
So what is Wal-Mart doing while the executives insist that they haven’t violated the 14th Amendment by discriminating against women? According to a news article in the New York Times that was published on September 14th, 2011, they have been trying to counter the discriminatory stigma that befallen the corporate giant. Wal-Mart has been busy promoting women’s rights by helping women owned business and women workers. In what could be seen as guilt money, Wal-Mart has pledged to source $20 billion worth of products from women-run business over the next 5 years. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like Wal-Mart is trying to rectify a wrong it knows it committed by covering its ass and trying to make it seem like Wal-Mart has been a champion for women in the workplace all along. And before you start thinking that Wal-Mart is allocating a lot of its resources towards women-owned business you need to look at the $4 billion a year in perspective. According to the same New York Times article, the $4 billion a year allotted for women’s businesses is just 5% of Wal-Mart’s operating expenses.
One could argue that Wal-Mart’s brand name has been tarnished by the allegations of gender discrimination and that is why the company is doing all of this. To that I would retort that if the company truly wasn’t at fault then the statistics in the case study would be quite different and the company could show that the discriminations are isolated instances. Unfortunately, this is not the case. For a company that can sniff out union members at the drop of a hat, there is no way that Wal-Mart didn’t realize what was going on.