A new report from Demos and the NAACP underscores how Walmart and the retail industry as a whole are driving inequality.
The report, titled The Retail Race Divide: How the Retail Industry Is Perpetuating Racial Inequality in the 21st Century, points out that while the retail sector continues to add jobs to the U.S. economy, many of these jobs are low-wage, part-time positions that are keeping Black and Latino workers from climbing up the economic ladder. According to the report, 17 percent of Black and 13 percent of Latino workers in the retail industry are living below the poverty line compared to 9 percent of the retail workers overall. Black and Latino retail workers are underrepresented in management positions which pay more. For example, while Black workers make up 11 percent of the retail workforce, only 6 percent of these workers are in management positions.
The report points out that Black and Latino retail workers are more likely to hold involuntary part-time positions with erratic hours that make it hard to juggle competing life demands, such as child care, a second job or the ability to go back to school. Even in full-time sales positions, Black and Latino retail workers earn about 75 cents on the dollar compared to their white colleagues, which amounts to up to $7,500 per year.
There are ways that Walmart, an important employer of women and minorities, and other retailers like Target, IKEA and Savers, can help narrow the racial gaps in the retail sector, including increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour (which would reduce the poverty rate in this sector by 50 percent); ending involuntary part-time work; and introducing fair scheduling practices. Members of OUR Walmart, who are also shareholders, will address these issues at Walmart’s shareholders meeting today, and present two resolutions intended to rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for workers.