Firstly, job postings require employees to work in shifts and sometimes come on their free days. This represents a major impediment for women with families and children who need to have a regular schedule for knowing the time they can allot to domestic responsibilities (http://walmartwatch.com/img/blog/dukes_backgrounder.pdf).
Secondly, the company lacks in female managers; even though the average number of female managers in the retail industry amounts to 47.5%, women holding leading positions at Wal-Mart account for 38.8% (http://walmartwatch.com/img/blog/dukes_backgrounder.pdf).
Thirdly, the company introduced the so-called wage caps, a technique which prohibits annual raises for workers whose salaries have already reached the cap (i.e. A pre-established sum of money). In order to start receiving the yearly raises, the respective employees must move to a superior position. As women expect longer for being promoted into higher positions and the experience they achieve is vast, they are the first segment impacted by such a policy (http://walmartwatch.com/img/blog/dukes_backgrounder.pdf).
Before suggesting courses of action, I would like to mention that findings 1 and 3 have been induced after listening to the discussions of the focus group members while finding number 2 has been detected after studying the Betty vs. Goliath report.
To conclude with, Wal-Mart is confronted with three major problems: equal pay, equal promotion opportunities for both men and women, and the work-life balance offered to employees.
First of all, for ensuring an equal pay, the company should draw up a job evaluation scheme (Soret, 2007). This method establishes the worth of a job and can use either analytical or non-analytical techniques. Yet, practice proves that the analytical Points Rating method is the most recommended one. This consists of identifying the core components of a job and their factors (e.g. knowledge and skills - experience, qualifications, trainings; decision-making - initiative, ability to analyze things; communication - social skills, diplomacy and so forth). Each of these elements receives a number of points directly proportional to the complexity of a job. The total sum of points will represent a job's value (http://www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/pay/general/jobeval.htm).Therefore, Wal-Mart should make this evaluation schemes public meaning that any employee can request them from the HR department and ask for an evaluation of his/her job if being entitled to a higher salary.
The main advantage of this method will be the transparency of the pay raise process while the main disadvantage could be the employee's different perspective on the points he/she should receive.
Secondly, the promotion process should be clearly explained by the organization. Thus, Wal-Mart must draw up a concise career path in which it should specify the requirements for climbing each step (from hourly positions to in-store management and above-store management). This scheme should be displayed in a visible place (priory communicated to all employees) together with the available promotion opportunities. Hence, the obvious benefits of this measure are the fact that employees know exactly what they have to do for climbing the ladder and are permanently informed about vacancies.
Thirdly, the HR department should pay attention to the recruitment process and the hidden discriminative messages that job postings include. In this regard, it should display flexibility towards possible family problems encountered by potential employees and assure these of the company's willingness to provide a perfect work-life balance.
The main advantage of such measure is represented by the flexible and friendly work environment offered to personnel, a thing which will surely lead to an increased productivity and enthusiasm in accomplishing job tasks. A possible inconvenience could be the other employees' protest against the understanding mainly shown to certain persons reporting family problems more frequently. In this regard, the company should prove its fair-play and balance the advantages offered to its staff.
All these solutions represent only a vague profile of the actions that must be implemented and accordingly detailed within the framework of ample plans. Yet, they have been provided on the basis of my vast experience, of the literature dedicated to this theme (especially on the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's fact sheets and studies) and of the conclusions drawn after analyzing the measures communicated to me by Wal-Mart's HR department and the tapes containing the focus group's discussions.
Consequently, they include a significant slice of feasibility as practice has already proved their success. Still, they must be tailored to the company's needs and evaluated according to several criteria like: the time after which they begin producing results, their complexity, the difficulties encountered when implementing them, the negative effects they might have.
4. Conclusions and recommendations
To conclude with, Wal-Mart has a negative historic background as a result of the discrimination scandals it had to deal with and the significant media coverage that these received. Even though the company has strived to remove the gender bias related issues, it is still confronted with various aspects which enlarge the gap between men and women: job requirements, wage caps, promotions. For addressing these remaining incongruities, Wal-Mart should devise and implement three major plans regarding: a viable job evaluation scheme based on the Points Rating method, a clear and transparent career path and an effective work-life balance policy. All these measures will soften Wal-Mart's image in the eyes of the public and will ensure a considerable pool of talented persons wishing to join the Wal-Mart team for achieving their common goals.
Drogin, R. (2003). Statistical Analysis of Gender Patterns in Wal-Mart Workforce. On the Internet at: www.walmartclass.com/staticdata/reports/r2.pdfRetrieved July 14.
Soret, N. (2007). Equal Pay. On the Internet at http://www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/dvsequl/equpay/eqpay.htm?IsSrchRes=1Retrieved July 14, 2007.
Betty vs. Goliath: A history of Dukes v. Wal-Mart (2006). On the Internet at: walmartwatch.com/img/blog/dukes_backgrounder.pdf Retrieved July 14, 2007.
Job evaluation (2007). On the Internet at: www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/pay/general/jobeval.htm. Retrieved July 14.