Walmart has launched a Women’s Empowerment Knowledge center to house stories and details about its Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative launched in 2011, through which it has sourced more than $20 billion from women-owned businesses for products and services for the U.S. business.
Through this effort the retailer has “increased sourcing from women-owned businesses, empowered women in retail supply chains through training in agriculture and factories, and promoted diversity and inclusion within supplier account teams supporting Walmart,” according to a company blog post by Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart, and president of the Walmart Foundation.
In 2017, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation will complete its five-year effort to train 1 million women around the world to access markets and enhance their career opportunities, the company noted in its sustainability report. The effort is focused on farms, factories, retail in emerging markets and low-income women in the U.S., according to that report.
Just last year, experts told Retail Dive that Walmart's penchant for staying relatively mum about its sustainability efforts was an effort to avoid judgment from critics and customers alike.
“On the scale of what needs to be done for sustainability, no company or few companies can do it all. The minute that you start saying ‘hey look at me!’ you invite people to hey, look at you, and they'll find something that you’re doing that does not align with that,” Allen Adamson, founder of Brand Simple Consulting, told Retail Dive then. “Since you often can’t change everything, the prevailing conventional wisdom in marketing and sustainability is ‘do more, talk less.’”
That appears to be changing. Walmart is now dedicating a major portion of its corporate website to the years-in-the-making Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative." Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t, and what’s needed to accelerate progress," McLaughlin said in a post explaining how the new "knowledge center" will help other organizations shape their own programs. "[I]n the spirit of collaboration we’ll share our achievements, challenges and learnings. I invite you to use these resources as you continue in your own efforts to empower women, building shared value for your business and communities. Together, we can make an even greater difference."