Fresh off a dismissal of a massive class-action sexual-discrimination lawsuit filed by its female employees, Wal-Mart announced Wednesday that it is launching a multibillion-dollar initiative aimed at helping businesses owned by women around the globe.
Bloomberg explains that the five-year plan includes buying $20 billion of products from female-owned businesses in the U.S. and training women to work in factories and retail around the world. The world’s largest private employer also will provide more than $100 million in grants to nonprofit organizations aiding women.
The initiative comes just three months after the Supreme Court blocked a 2001 sexual-discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of as many as 1.6 million female workers. The suit aimed to cover every woman who worked at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores at any point since December 1998, including women hired after the suit was filed. The big-box retailer may still face small discrimination lawsuits in lower courts and claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Wal-Mart’s Executive Vice President Leslie Dach explained the rationale behind the new female-centric push in an interview with the Associated Press. “We know this is important for our customers and it will make for a stronger business.” The majority of Wal-Mart’s 200 million weekly customers are women, and they control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending.