Women’s Empowerment: Outlining Our Pledge to Make a Difference

Walmart Home Office, Bentonville, Arkansas

By Leslie Dach

Walmart Home Office, Bentonville, Arkansas

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Mike. I’d like to ask Sarah Thorn to join me. Sarah has led this effort over the past year, and she’s done a great job. Thanks, Sarah.

Over the past few years, we’ve developed an even deeper understanding of how Walmart can help address large social issues and help people live better. We’ve set bold goals. We’ve made measurable progress. Most important, we’ve made a difference. Our NGO partners have been with us every step of the way, and I want to add my thanks today.

At Walmart, we simply 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. It’s a 360 degree approach that brings together the strengths of our business -- our associates, our customers, our supply chain and our communities. And we use those strengths and our size and scale to drive change and progress.

This is what makes today’s announcement so unique and exciting. 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.

As Mike said, we’ll lead in five key areas, with measurable goals to empower women across the supply chain by the end of 2016.

First, we’ll increase our sourcing from women-owned businesses.

Today, we’re pledging to double our sourcing from women suppliers in every single market we serve. In the United States, we’ll source $20 billion from women-owned businesses over the next five years.

We’ll also design a groundbreaking new tool to set a baseline and track sourcing from women-owned businesses internationally. This will tackle one of the biggest challenges that every company faces -- accurately measuring global spending with women suppliers.

Second, we’ll empower women on farms and in factories through training, market access and career opportunities.

At Walmart, we already committed to work with 1 million farmers -- half of whom will be women – to be more sustainable and increase their incomes. In China, India and Latin America, we’ll launch new programs to help women farm workers participate more fully in the agriculture supply chain. As Mike said, when you raise the income of women farmers, they reinvest in their families and in their communities.

When it comes to factory workers, we’ll be launching training programs in 150 factories in India, Bangladesh, Central America and China.

We expect to train 60,000 women in fundamental life skills and help them become better advocates for themselves at home, at work and in their communities. From that pool, 8,000 high-potential women will be trained in leadership and management skills.

Studies show that in factories where women have more of a voice, where managers step up and value them as long-term members of the team, those factories are more productive, have higher output and produce higher quality products.

Third, we will empower women through job training and education.

We already have an innovative partnership in Washington, D.C. to offer literacy, customer service and retail training to 2,000 people.

Our goal in the U.S. is to expand this program to more cities and, in partnership with NGOs, help over 200,000 women from low-income households gain access to education, job skills and greater economic security.

As you know, we’ve already had tremendous success in Brazil and India helping women see a brighter future for the first time. We want to scale these centers in more countries. We’ll train and certify another 200,000 women in India, China, Brazil and other markets in Latin America. Giving women the opportunity at a first job is a launching pad into the formal economy and a better life. First jobs and retail jobs can be truly life changing.

Fourth, we’ll work to increase gender diversity among our professional service suppliers.

Through our successful legal diversity program, we’ve shifted tens of millions of dollars in fees to help make sure that women and minorities are recognized and rewarded for their hard work and contributions. This has been great for our suppliers and great for our business.

In the U.S., we’ll expand this program to include other major professional service firms -- advertising firms, accounting firms and technology firms -- and merchandise suppliers with over $1 billion in sales. We will also translate this program to our retail markets around the world, beginning with our global suppliers.

Fifth, we’ll support these goals by donating $100 million dollars from the Walmart Foundation and our international corporate giving towards women’s economic empowerment.

Philanthropy has an important, strategic role to play in this initiative. It’s about investing in programs and working with partners to expand our reach into areas where we may not have a presence. Working with our partners, for example, we’ll design new curriculum to train factory workers and new programs to help women enter the formal economy.

This pledge will make economic opportunity for women one of the largest areas of focus for our philanthropic giving

Thank you again Sarah for your work and leadership over the past year.

Taken together, these five goals will open markets for women-owned businesses, increase opportunities for women on farms and in factories, and help bring about a global marketplace where women’s contributions are truly valued. At Walmart, these aren’t our first steps on women’s empowerment. But they are new, big steps forward.

As Mike said, this initiative will help countless women live better. And helping women live better will make Walmart a stronger business and help build a better world for all.

Thank you so much for your support of our efforts at Walmart.