Contextually Speaking

So many times a story will cross the newswire without any context. If you only read or know the bare facts, you don’t get the whole story. “Wal-Mart is announcing initiatives it says will help out women around the world over the next five years.” Sounds great! Sounds progressive and pro-active. The retailer plans to spend $20 billion over the period on goods and services from U.S. businesses owned by women. It says it will double what it spends with international suppliers run by women.

The world’s most successful retailer also plans to offer retail training programs to help 200,000 women internationally. And in the U.S., it aims to offer life and jobs skills training for 200,000 low-income women.

Women, women, women. Why so much focus on women?

Well let’s remember what the company has recently been through. A massive class-action lawsuit launched against Walmart claiming discrimination by women wound its way through the courts over many years and was finally, recently tossed out. Business professors, HR professionals and, frankly, women, had expected the retailer to be on the hook for billions of dollars in payouts but the final judge ultimately decided there was no way to prove that there was a policy across the board to keep women out of managerial jobs. Thousands upon thousands of women had joined in the legal action that now lays dead on the courtroom floor. There is no way that the company was innocent in this. But it dodged a bullet. So now it’s coming out with a major pro-women initiative to tell the world that “Walmart loves women and wants to work with them!”

Coincidence? I think not. Guilty conscience, more like it.