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Walmart President and CEO Mike Duke has rolled out a major initiative that will leverage the Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-retailer’s vast size and scale to help empower women across its supply chain.
Meanwhile, Kraft Foods has once again been named as one of the “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" by Working Mother magazine.
Working over the past year with representatives from governments, nongovernmental organizations, philanthropic groups and academia, Walmart's Global Women's Economic Empowerment Initiative has established five goals.
By the end of 2016, the company plans to source $20 billion from women-owned businesses in the United States and double sourcing from women suppliers globally; implement programs to help 60,000 women working in factories that supply products to Walmart and other retailers develop the necessary skills to become more active decision-makers in their jobs and for their families, as well as initiatives to help women farm workers participate more fully in the agriculture supply chain; scale up already successful retail training programs to aid 200,000 women internationally, and help 200,000 women from low-income households in the United States develop job skills and access higher education; work with major professional service firms and merchandise suppliers to boost women and minority representation on Walmart accounts; and support these programs with more than $100 million in grants from the Walmart Foundation, along with donations coming directly from the company’s global businesses.
“Helping more women live better is a defining issue for our business and our world,” said Duke. “We’re stepping up our efforts to help educate, source from and open markets for women around the world. We want women to view us as a retailer that is relevant to them and cares about them. We want them to be leading suppliers, managers and loyal customers.”
Using the same model it’s employed to take on such major issues as hunger, better-for-you foods and sustainability, Walmart will team with organizations including CARE, Vital Voices, CountMeIn, WBENC and WeConnect International.
“Walmart's global women's initiative has the potential to be a game-changer for women and for economic growth,” noted Melanne Verveer, U.S. ambassador at large for global women’s issues. “By tapping its core competencies as a global retailer, Walmart will empower more women to access markets and develop careers in the global supply chain, transforming their lives and the lives of their families.”
The company has additionally developed country-specific five-year goals and commitments in markets where it operates, including China, India, Brazil and Central America.
“We do not believe that a company has to choose between being a successful business and a responsible one,” affirmed Leslie Dach, Walmart EVP of corporate affairs. “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.”
In other news, Working Mother magazine has named Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods Inc. to its list of the “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers” for the sixth consecutive year.
“Kraft offers the culture, practices and programs to support employees in reaching their full potential,” the company said in a news release. Among the examples of several work-life initiatives that foster a flexible work environment for the company’s working moms:
- Telecommuting, flextime, job-sharing and part-time options designed to promote employee mobility and a versatile work environment.
- New-mother phase-in programs to ease the return to work after the birth of a baby, adoption of a child or placement of a child for foster care.
- Backup dependent care program helps arrange – and pay for – backup care for a child or dependent elder.
- Wellness programs provide preventive care resources, nutrition counseling, stress management coaching, and on-site fitness centers or discounts to local gyms.
“With two daughters, I learned early in my career that balancing work and family would be a challenge,” said Lisa Grenier, manager of Kraft’s Planters snack nuts plant in Fort Smith, Ark. “What helped me most was setting priorities and focusing on quality time with my family. Being flexible and having support for daycare – from my family, community and company – was vitally important.”
For 25 years, Working Mother has recognized companies that lead the way to greater work-life harmony for working moms. The Working Mother 100 Best Companies application includes more than 650 questions on the availability of benefits such as flexible work schedules, paid time off and leaves of absence, work-life programs and wellness initiatives. For more information on the award criteria, visit workingmother.com.
Kraft Foods markets biscuits, confectionery, beverages, cheese, grocery products and convenient meals in 170 countries. With 2010 revenue of $49.2 billion, Kraft’s brands include Cadbury, Jacobs, Kraft, LU, Maxwell House, Milka, Nabisco, Oreo, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia, Tang and Trident.