It’s been called the “feminization of poverty.” Many of the low wage jobs in retailing are filled by women. This week, Wal-Mart, under pressure from investor groups, published a federal report known as the EEO-1 report. This report is a document that provides statistics to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on the numbers of women and minorities employed in a company’s workforce. The EEO-1 report provides a snapshot of the employer’s workforce by sex, race/ethnicity and job category. Wal-Mart has released a breakdown of its 1.3 million U.S. workers (international workers not included), which indicates that the company’s largest job classification, “sales workers,” is made up of 74.6% women. By contrast, its “officers/managers” job classification shows only 38.8% women. Wal-Mart employs 23,873 female managers, and 543,171 female sales workers. For every one woman in management, you will find 23 women as sales clerks. Wal-Mart also claims that 21% of its managers are minorities, while 32% of its sales workers are minorities. Wal-Mart’s release of this new data came in response to a shareowner resolution filed by members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a coalition of 275 faith-based institutional investors, which withdrew the resolution when Wal-Mart agreed to publish the new form. Barbara Aires, coordinator of corporate responsibility for the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, New Jersey, told SocialFunds.com, “Our work does not end with this report, however — we will continue our dialogue with management on shaping human resources policies that set new standards for openness and opportunity.” There are apparently only six other companies in the S&P100 index that publicly disclose their entire EEO-1 report. “It took Wal-Mart a while to get to this point, but they are to be commended for doing exactly what shareholders have been calling upon companies to do,” said Heidi Soumerai, director of social research at Walden Asset Management. “The first thing I did after hearing about Wal-Mart was alert Home Depot, where we are filing a shareholder resolution requesting more comprehensive EEO statistics — it’s very important for them to see that if a company like Wal-Mart can do it, they can too. I also think it’s interesting that Wal-Mart is doing this while in the midst of a sexual discrimination lawsuit. Many companies say that they have concerns that this type of disclosure is the impetus for lawsuits. We believe that disclosure and accountability may actually help companies avoid lawsuits,” she added. “It’s clear to see where their numbers lag the industry — for example for women in the officials and managers category — but you can also see that they are ahead of the country as a whole on the other important categories, such as professionals, technicians, and sales workers, which are feeder groups for the official and manager category. As for African-American officials and managers, they have 10.7% versus the industry’s 8.3%, and in the rest of the categories we look, they are better than the industry.” Because there is no baseline data on Wal-Mart diversity, this week’s release of data will have to serve as the benchmark to measure the next four or five years of activity, allowing shareholders to push for better numbers in these workforce measures of inclusion.
The release of this data is not about to end Wal-Mart employment problems. A group of 10 socially responsible investment firms and faith-based institutional investors sent a letter late last month to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott asking the company to address its history of union-busting activity. The company has not responded to the letter. This is a much more serious issue than just releasing a data report. To see the Wal-Mart EEO-1 report, go to www.walmartfacts.com, or contact [email protected]