Worker Dignity & Safety

Strengthening Demand for Responsible Recruitment Practices

Walmart seeks to address potential risks to the dignity and safety of workers in our supply chain through working with others to strengthen the demand for responsible recruitment practices, promote safe working conditions, and advance gender equity.

Addressing Forced Labor Risks

By the end of 2026, we want responsible recruitment to be the standard business practice for employers throughout the global supply chain.

Why It Matters

Forced labor is recognized as a risk in multiple industries employing migrant workers including seafood, electronics, and agriculture. As migrant workers often rely on labor brokers to facilitate their migration and employment, they may be exposed to unethical and exploitative recruitment practices including being charged multiple fees for travel, passport and visa processing, medical examinations and other unspecified services. These fees can often be excessive, leading to debt that may leave workers vulnerable to further exploitation.

Walmart believes in the Employer Pays Principle — that no worker should pay for a job and that the costs of recruitment should be borne not by the worker but by the employer — and that it is fundamental in combatting exploitation, forced labor, and the trafficking of migrant workers in global supply chains.

Our Approach

Walmart is actively working with suppliers and others to help mitigate risks for those most vulnerable to forced labor and trafficking. We believe that promoting the dignity of workers in our supply chain begins by setting clear expectations, as we’ve done with our Standards for Suppliers and Responsible Recruitment Expectations. These standards are consistent with our respect for human rights and include expectations around forced labor, worker safety and respect in the workplace. We monitor and hold suppliers accountable to our standards through our Responsible Sourcing Compliance program.

Beyond compliance, Walmart is working with suppliers and others to address complex social issues in a way that creates system wide change. Our Supplier Leadership Program on People is designed to support suppliers on their journey to strengthen worker dignity in their supply chain. Launched for the 2022 reporting season, this voluntary program supports suppliers with guidance on meaningful actions they can take to set goals across three priority areas that seek to advance responsible recruitment and dignity for workers. We have designed the program to make it seamless for suppliers to share their goals and progress of their actions on an annual basis through a new People Pillar of the Sustainability Portal.

2022 Walmart Supplier Growth Forum – announcement of People focused supplier engagement program – featuring Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart’s Chief Sustainability Officer and President of the Walmart Foundation joined by Walmart senior merchants – Laura Rush, Tyler Lehr and Martin Mundo.

We have developed a set of practices across three priority areas to help suppliers engage in – and continuously improve on – meaningful leadership practices to advance responsible recruitment. These practices draw from external resources and thought leaders on responsible recruitment as well as insights from consultations from more than a dozen external stakeholders, including suppliers and prominent civil society organizations in partnership with Article One.

Supplier Engagement Program – People. Set SMART Goals. Report Progress Annually. Recruitment: Strengthen Recruitment: Recruit workers through ethical and responsible recruiters or hire directly. Build Capacity: Build capacity and train staff who hire workers on responsible recruitment and forced labor prevention. Invest in Responsible Labor Systems: Invest in capacity building resources to strengthen recruitment agencies. Empowerment: Strengthen Awareness: Leverage NGOs to strengthen migrant workers' knowledge around safe migration. Strengthen Voice: Leverage worker-driven, ethical recruitment programs and COs to implement channels for independent grievance and remedy. Leverage Regional or Industry-Based Initiatives: Leverage regional/country level projects to advance responsible recruitment. Transparency: Commit to and Report: Document and publicly report on challenges, successes, and impact of responsible recruitment activities. Map Supply Chain: Strengthen knowledge and process to assess risk to inform responsible recruitment efforts. Validate Approach: Seek independent review to identify management gaps and develop timebound action plans to strengthen current approach.

Where We’re Focusing

In 2022 we started by prioritizing engagement with suppliers to Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club U.S. in three categories – Fresh Produce, Seafood and Entertainment (e.g., Information, Communications and Technology). In 2023 we’re extending the program to suppliers in Apparel and Home and continue to encourage all suppliers to engage and share their relevant efforts to advance responsible recruitment and help drive positive impacts for workers in the supply chain.

How to Get Involved   

  • Watch this short video on Walmart’s Supplier Leadership Program on People.
  • Review the tools and resources listed below to get started.
  • Identify the actions you will take to help accelerate progress in one or more of the three priority areas.
  • Set a SMART Goal for People. 
  • Report through the People Pillar of the Sustainability Portal. 

To learn more about this program and how you can get involved, please refer to the tools and resources below.


Updated Aug. 2023