Walmart's Global Initiative to Empower Women
On April 5, 2012, Walmart launched its ‘Women in Factories’ program, a five-year initiative that will empower 60,000 women working in factories that supply products to Walmart and other retailers in India, Bangladesh, China and Central America. Walmart Stores serves customers and members in about 10,130 retail units under 69 different banners in 27 countries. With an enormous amount of sales and associates, it continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity.
Under this program, which is being implemented in collaboration with local NGOs, upto 8,000 women will receive leadership training to develop the work and life skills necessary for personal and career development. It aims to teach critical things related to communication, hygiene, reproductive health, occupational health and safety, identifying personal strengths and gender sensitivity. In terms of external outreach, Walmart Asia has developed strong empowerment programmes across the region, helping to increase women-owned businesses and making considerable donations to charitable initiatives. For example, Bharti Walmart in India has developed the Cashew Value Chain Initiative in Southern India in partnership with CARE India, with the goal of uplifting poverty-stricken women through engagement.
It is really a boon in a country like India where women don’t have opportunities for training and career development. The Bharti Walmart Training Center offers short-term vocational training courses that equip candidates to become floor or sales assistants or supervisors through a special curriculum developed by Walmart. All students enrolled in the program are awarded a 100% scholarship. To date, more than 6,300 students have been certified, and 2,100 have been placed in various jobs. One such student is Amandeep Kaur, a young woman from a village just outside Amritsar. She chose self-reliance and her zeal and determination got a proper direction in Bharti Walmart Training Center. Upon graduation, she was placed as a sales associate at the Best price wholesale store in Amritsar. Internally, Walmart Asia has reached a number of milestones in its drive towards increasing gender diversity across all stores and departments in the region. It not only employs around 60,000 women across Asia, but is proactively increasing the number of women involved in decision-making roles.
By the end of 2016, this programme aims to increase sourcing from women-owned businesses, empower women in farms and in factories through training, market access and career opportunities, help 200,000 women in the U.S. from low-income households gain job skills and access higher education. It also aspires to increase gender diversity among major suppliers, by working with major professional service firms and merchandise suppliers. Walmart has also taken an enterprise to support these programs with more than $100 million in grants to drive progress towards achieving the key goals. Funding will come from the Walmart Foundation and donations directly from Walmart’s international businesses.
Leslie Dach, Walmart’s executive vice-president of Corporate Affairs, in discussing the company’s approach to women’s economic empowerment, made a statement, “We do not believe that a company has to choose between being a successful business and a responsible one. We have a model for making a difference that works. When we combine the Walmart model with women’s empowerment, we have an incredible opportunity to make a difference on the big challenges facing our world.”
And yes, women are raring to make the difference!!