Is Walmart’s Women’s Initiative for Real?

Walmart’s announcement last week of its multi-billion-dollar Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative spurred a slew of comments. Detractors, including the National Organization for Women, argued that this was a “PR stunt” motivated by bad publicity over th

e company’s recent Supreme Court victory. In June, the court denied class-action status to the massive sex-discrimination lawsuit the company had been battling for more than a decade.

I’ve spoken with people at Walmart who were involved in putting together the new women’s initiative, and I’ve reviewed their data on women. The company says its rationale for the women’s initiative was to improve its business by both empowering and reaching its predominantly female global customer base. I have two questions to address: Is motivation from a discrimination lawsuit necessarily a bad thing? And what does Walmart really have to gain by this?