How Walmart and other companies are responding to calls for racial equity, justice

Many companies and local businesses are responding to the protests of George Floyd's death. Some are launching new initiatives aimed at empowering the black community.

Big box giant, Walmart, is now reversing a controversial policy. The chain had been under fire for keeping some of its "multicultural products" marketed to African Americans locked in glass cases at some of its stores. On Wednesday it announced that policy is no longer in place.

The company released this statement:

"As a retailer serving millions of customers every day from diverse backgrounds, Walmart does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. Like other retailers, the cases were put in place to deter shoplifters from some products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics and other personal care products. We're sensitive to the issue and understand the concerns raised by our customers and members of the community and have made the decision to discontinue placing multicultural hair care and beauty products - a practice in place in about a dozen of our 4,700 stores nationwide - in locked cases."

Sulaiman Rahman, the founder and CEO of DiverseForce, says, "People are being conscious of these practices, these discriminatory policies. Think about what message that sends to a community when you criminalize a whole community."

Brandi Baldwin, the CEO of Millenial Ventures, says, "Making those changes and correcting where they are wrong is going to help Walmart in the long run. I'm glad that they're listening to the public and making a change to that policy."

Since the nationwide protests against the death of Floyd, many other companies are launching new campaigns and committing money, as well as resources to empower the black community.

Makeup retailer, Sephora, has joined the 15% pledge, dedicating 15% of its shelf space to black-owned companies.

Amazon is donating $10 million to organizations supporting justice and equity.

But Rahman urges companies both big and small to do more.

He says, "First and foremost, looking at the top, diversity starts in the boardroom. It's holding CEOs accountable. It's hiring diverse talent, promoting diverse talent, making sure pay equity is fair across the board. It's also important to look at supplier diversity, what vendors are you buying from."

Baldwin's company, Millennial Ventures, helps launch startups owned by African Americans and women.

She says, "We are really trying to say, 'Hey how can we partner and connect with larger companies that can support the smaller businesses that are coming up?'"

Baldwin also has advice on how consumers can do their part.

She says, "In terms of how individuals can support black and brown businesses, definitely think local. Some people might think,'I don't know what local businesses to support.' Go to the African American chamber, go to the Hispanic chamber, go online and make sure you do your research. A small amount from a lot of people can really go a long way."

Rahman says, "I'm optimistic if we keep this moving, it can make a big impact."

Both Baldwin and Rahman are also optimistic that current efforts can be sustained and have a lasting impact.

If you'd like to support black owned businesses, please check out these links:

https://aachamber.com

https://www.visitphilly.com/articles/philadelphia/black-owned-shops-and-boutiques-in-philadelphia/

https://www.philahispanicchamber.org

https://blackandbrownfounders.com

https://www.phillystartupleaders.org

https://www.blackgirlventures.org
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