Open Letter to Mike Duke From Women’s Advocacy Organizations

Posted by on Oct 5, 2011 in updates | No Comments

Open Letter to Mike Duke From Women’s Advocacy Organizations

Mike Duke, CEO
Walmart Stores, Inc.
702 SW 8Th St
Bentonville, AR 72716

Dear Mr. Duke,

As advocates for women throughout the country, we are gravely concerned about the impact that Walmart’s business practices are having on the nation’s women and their families. As you well know, as the largest private employer in the country and the one that employs the most women, Walmart greatly influences how women are treated and paid in the retail and grocery industries and it has a unique opportunity to raise the bar for its Associates and other retailers.

We were pleased to hear that Walmart has launched a women’s initiative to support women-owned businesses, but it is very disappointing that the initiative fails to address the barriers faced by women who work in Walmart stores.

As defendants in the largest gender discrimination class action lawsuit in history, you have undoubtedly spent significant time studying how women are paid and treated at Walmart. A review of Walmart’s current policies and practices makes clear that they are causing real harm and hardship for many of the company’s women Associates. Accordingly, we urge Walmart to address key policies and practices.

In order to eliminate any disparities in pay and advancement, Walmart needs to establish a fair method for compensation and promotion for Associates, particularly for women. Evidence in the case of Dukes v. Wal-Mart demonstrates that women employed by Walmart were paid less than their male counterparts, even though women, on average, had higher performance ratings in hourly jobs and more years of employment. Women at Walmart were also less likely to be promoted and had to wait longer for promotions than their male counterparts. When employers pay unfair, discriminatory or low wages, it can have serious long-term consequences for employees. And these wages keep millions of women and their families in poverty. Walmart’s opportunities for promotion must always be clearly posted so that all Associates can fairly apply and advance in their careers, and they must be based on objective criteria, rather than excessive discretion of managers.

Women who work at Walmart while trying to raise and care for their families need predictable schedules and flexibility. Of particular importance for women, who are the sole or primary caregivers for their families in the majority of U.S. households, are clear and equitably enforced sick, vacation and family leave policies. Without these basic protections, too many Associates are forced to choose between the well-being of their families and their jobs.

Finally, Walmart needs a strong system of resolution for Associates’ concerns that ensures women are protected from unlawful sexual harassment and other forms of workplace harassment. All Associates should have full access to personnel policies so they are aware of their rights and critical workplace protections.

We, the undersigned, know these policies well. And we know that Walmart can – and should – be a place of opportunity for women. These policies are critical, and no company can be an industry leader without them.

As you know, many hourly Walmart associates have joined together to create the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart). They are committed to improving the work experience at Walmart stores and, consequently, the lives of all Walmart Associates. We support the recommendations they have put forth in their Declaration of Respect. (Encl.) And, working hand-in-hand with OUR Walmart, we are developing additional policy recommendations that we hope will help Walmart become a better workplace for all Associates, especially women. Walmart has a great opportunity to positively influence the policies of countless employers throughout the country and around the world.

To show our commitment, we have joined Making Change at Walmart – a campaign standing with the Walmart Associates of OUR Walmart who are working to create a future where they can succeed in their careers, where Walmart continues to succeed in business, and where Walmart customers receive great service and value. By listening to the recommendations of its associates, Walmart can become a better employer and a partner in rebuilding our economy. To that end, we urge you to meet with representatives from OUR Walmart and our organizations to discuss our recommendations.


9 to 5: National Association of Working Women
Family Values @ Work
Labor Project for Working Families
National Congress of Black Women
National Organization for Women (NOW)
National Partnership for Women & Families
Coalition of Labor Union Women
Making Change at Walmart
United Food and Commercial Workers Women’s Network

Click here to download a copy of the letter.

Join us by adding your voice to this open letter.