Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has become one of nine corporations engaged in a collaborative effort to track and report sourcing from self-identified and certified women-owned businesses (WOBs) over the next five years, with the aim of creating a more visible movement and raising awareness of the importance of sourcing from WOBs. The formal initiative is a first for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled and operated by women in the United States. The other companies taking part in the effort are Campbell Soup Co., The Coca-Cola Co., ExxonMobil, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Mondelēz International, PepsiCo, and Procter & Gamble.
The mega-retailer revealed the initiative on behalf of the other companies involved and WBENC at Walmart’s Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) Summit, in Washington, D.C., a gathering of business, government, NGO and academic leaders.
“Creating economic opportunity and growth is central to who we are as a company,” noted Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon. “We are proud to be part of this important initiative, and together we can make an even bigger impact in elevating these successful women-owned businesses. Our customers care where products are sourced, and we believe supporting women-owned businesses helps us put innovative products on our shelves while helping these businesses thrive and grow.”
“By participating in this initiative, these companies will help fuel innovation and growth for women-owned businesses across the U.S.,” said Pamela Prince-Eason, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based WBENC. “With women-owned businesses currently supporting the creation or maintenance of 23 million American jobs, investing in their growth means investing in more opportunities for the workforce overall.”
Walmart helped to recruit this initial group to participate in the initiative, and is urging others to join, too. The effort arrives in the wake of the company’s five-year Global WEE Initiative, which included a set of goals to help empower women globally via sourcing, training and supporting diversity and inclusion. Additionally, in 2014, in collaboration with WBENC and WEConnect International, also based in the nation’s capital, a global network that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers, Walmart helped fund the creation of the “Women-Owned” logo, which can be used by woman-owned suppliers certified by those organizations at any retailer to highlight their products to consumers. Currently, Walmart works with more than 1,500 suppliers who identify as women-owned businesses, offering a range of items.
Walmart has also revealed plans to open a knowledge center featuring the key tools, resources, learnings and achievements of the WEE Initiative to guide companies or institutions in the empowerment of women.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates 11,695 stores under 59 banners in 28 countries, and ecommerce websites in 11 countries.