SEXUAL HARASSMENT PROPOSAL TO BE CONSIDERED AT WALMART ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Filed by United for Respect and supported by some large institutional investors, the proposal would increase accountability for the persistent problem at the company
NATIONWIDE — Today, it was announced that a major proposal to strengthen Walmart’s sexual harassment policies will be included on the retailer’s 2019 proxy statement. The proposal, which was filed by United for Respect, will allow shareholders to vote to formalize more robust Board oversight of sexual harassment of Walmart associates and align senior executive compensation with plans to encourage real action.
In response, former Walmart associate and sexual harassment survivor Girshriela Green issued the following statement:
“Walmart has been silencing women and survivors of sexual harassment for too long. When my manager wouldn’t stop harassing me, he was relocated to another store instead of being held accountable. In this day and age, working women like me should be able to come to work expecting safety and dignity, not fear of inappropriate attention or retaliation. This is an opportunity for Walmart to support and protect the women who work in its stores.”
Complaints over sexual harassment at Walmart’s stores have escalated in recent years. One high-profile story documented a female associate’s struggle to hold her manager accountable for inappropriately touching her. Similar complaints of harassment, from employees taking inappropriate pictures to discrimination against transgender employees, have been lodged. Sexual harassment has been a source of criticism and reputational damage for Walmart, here and abroad, with the corporation facing multiple lawsuits and EEOC charges of sexual harassment. Last year, the CEO of Walmart’s India-based e-commerce operation Flipkart was forced to step down after allegations of sexual harassment.
“As investors in Walmart, we at Trustees United believe the company needs to ensure a work environment free of sexual harassment and violence. Walmart’s board must support the adoption and execution of a robust policy that allows Associates to safely bring forward claims of sexual harassment and violence,” said Nilza Serrano, co-founder of Trustees United and Commissioner at the Los Angeles City Employees Retirement System (LACERS). “It is in the long-term interest of the company, workers, and investors to support healthy and safe workplaces, free from abuse and harm and with clear mechanisms for redress when incidents occur.”
“Everyone deserves a safe, fair and dignified place to work. That’s why we launched the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund to provide support to both women and men who experience sexual misconduct and related retaliation in the workplace,” said Rebecca Goldman, interim CEO of TIME’S UP. “We stand with the Walmart employees who have come forward – at great risk to themselves – to bravely tell their stories. We urge Walmart’s shareholders to do what is right by taking immediate action to help ensure their workers are treated with dignity and respect.”
“The National Women’s Law Center is proud to support workers who come forward to expose sexual harassment and abuse,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “Through the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, we hear from workers across all industries who are facing this scourge. The Fund is supporting cases by Walmart employees who had the courage to blow the whistle on their abuse. It’s time for Walmart—and employers everywhere—to create safe workplaces for everyone.”
United for Respect, the proposal’s lead filer, is working to support people who have survived sexual harassment at Walmart and advocate for policies that impact women and families, including paid family leave, sick time policies, and accommodations and fair treatment for women who are pregnant at work. Last May, United for Respect (formerly OUR) sent a letter to Walmart’s CEO, signed by associates and 20 women’s and civil rights groups, calling for the corporation to publicly commit to make specific changes to Walmart’s harassment policy. Walmart’s opposition to the proposal does not adequately prioritize the safety and security of vulnerable Associates.