Is Walmart’s new “made by women” product labeling sexist? by Jon Hansen

Posted on July 7, 2014

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Walmart Sexist

“The path to gender equality does not involve stickers pointing out that a product has been made by a female entrepreneur. Women are not a charity group. If we want to help women in business, let’s close the pay gap and remove the glass ceiling – and then let products designed by women rise or fall on their own merits, by the realities of business.” – Diana Sz

The above comment was one response to Walmart’s recent announcement that they would be introducing product labeling that indicates to the consumer that the company behind the product they are buying is owned by a woman.

Featuring what appears to represent women holding hands in a circle, the new symbol is an extension of a campaign that Walmart first launched in 2011 when they made a commitment to source $20 billion of goods by 2016 from women-owned businesses in the U.S.

According to a Bloomberg Businessweek article, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council CEO Pamela Prince-Eason, expressed her belief that the new labeling will give people a “reason to feel good about the company they’re buying from.”

I am not certain that everyone shares Ms. Prince-Eason’s enthusiasm.

While Prince-Eason’s organization hopes that the new label will “inspire female consumers to act on a sense of solidarity,” it might very well have the opposite effect being more reminiscent of the reverse discrimination sentiments associated with similarly well intentioned affirmative action initiatives. Especially given the observation by the Bloomberg article’s author Patrick Clark, that the “designation doesn’t tell you anything about the inherent qualities of the merchandise.”

Putting aside the obviously tongue-in-cheek comment of one male reader who asked “Will Walmart promote “Men Owned” labels as well?”, the question that needs to be answered is simply this . . . is the new labeling program sexist?

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Posted in: Commentary