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Worker Dignity & Safety

Published on September 20, 2020 and last updated on March 31, 2022

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Workers washing and sorting cucumbers

Promoting Dignity of Workers in Our Supply Chain

Walmart aims to champion worker dignity and safety in our supply chain by working with others to strengthen demand for responsible recruitment practices, promote safe working conditions, and advance gender equity.

Strengthening Demand for Responsible Recruitment Practices

We are working to help make responsible recruitment the standard business practice for employers throughout the global supply chain by the end of 2026.

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. We’ve launched a new program designed to support suppliers in their journey to strengthen worker dignity in their supply chain. With this voluntary program, we will support 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. Suppliers can join the program at the start of the 2022 reporting season.

2022 Walmart Supplier Growth Forum People Focused Supplier Engagement Program Announcement

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.

Walmart has 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 Graphic

Where We’re Focusing

To start, we will prioritize engagement with suppliers to Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club U.S. in three priority categories – Fresh Produce, Seafood and Entertainment (e.g., Information, Communications and Technology). While initial focus will be on these three supply chains, all suppliers are invited to engage and encouraged to share their relevant progress to advance responsible recruitment and help drive positive impacts for workers in the supply chain.

How to Get Involved   

  • 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. (Available Fall 2022.)
  • Leverage the tools and resources provided to support continuous improvement.

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

Resources

Check back soon for resources that are currently under development.