Wal-Mart = Female Empowerment?

by Intern Courtnay

Students for Free Enterprise USA (SIFE) and Wal-Mart are teaming up to launch an economic empowerment partnership for women.  The project started earlier this year and Wal-Mart will make the announcement of the initiative via a live webcast today (September 14, 2011) from their home offices in Arkansas. SIFE is an international non- profit organization that collaborates with university students and business leaders to develop skills to help students make a difference in their community and become socially responsible business leaders. Wal-Mart is not only working with SIFE USA but other female empowerment charities and non-profits: CARE USA and Count Me In will also be joining the program. The Wal-Mart Economic Empowerment Program claims that it will seek to educate and empower women with the necessary skills that are required to obtain employment, “a voice” and a healthy lifestyle. The initiative’s goal is to assist women with skills that enable them to contribute to their family’s financial well being. 

The program strives to help women in two specific areas. One, it is going to connect women with a female entrepreneur to develop a business plan and then provide the necessary skills and training that will offer a foundation to start a new business, help a struggling business or assist with the growing of a founded business. The initiative also ventures to help train women in the workforce with skills that will allow them to acquire and maintain employment or advance their career. Grants are dispersed to the budding business women as part of the plan; in 2010-2011 up to fifty teams of women will receive $2000 dollars.

While the female empowerment initiative may be in good faith, the corporate giant doesn’t have the best track record with the female sex. A class action law-suit was filed against the private retailer in 2001 by over one million women claiming gender discrimination when it came to pay, hiring, and promotions. The suit went all the way to Supreme Court where in June 2011, it was unanimously rejected. The court claimed that the employees were too spread out in too many stores and departments to have enough in common to “make class action treatment appropriate.” The ruling seems to limit the scope of large class action lawsuits, which is good news for other large corporations. You can follow the announcement live at Walmartstores.com/women, Twitter.com/Walmart (hashtag) #EmpowerWomen.

SIFE USA Women Non-Profits
Initiative Announcement
Official Walmart Initiative Page
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