Walmart’s Latest LGBT Policy: A Case Showing Millennial’s Voices Will Still Shape America

Walmart retail store with safety pin symbol and the map showing how millennials voted in the 2016 presidential election

Walmart is right at the top of the Fortune 500, though it now faces competition from Amazon, the largest online retailer. Today it’s making news for adding insurance for transgender workers, following the lead of Target. Given the mega-giant retailer’s conservative past, what are the key motivations for this step forward today, as Donald Trump and Mike Pence stand ready to impose new threats to the push for equality in America? Look no further than the bottom line and the voices of a group of Americans who have more influence than this election would indicate – millennials.

One look at this map of how millennials voted in the 2016 election shows a dramatic difference from the map for the whole of aged America. Not much red there at all. Retailers, seeking the best talent for future employees, good PR, and association with other successful companies on the ‘right side of history’ are familiar with this blue map. (See the map below)

They have seen the studies that integrating happy millennials into corporate culture leads to greater success in dollar amounts. Those companies that listen to the needs of this segment of the population outperform the rest in staggering numbers. Most importantly, what millennials value most in a boss are ethics, fairness, and transparency, which leads to a strong unwavering belief in equality for minority citizens in America. This partly explains the story of why corporations are leading the charge for equality in 2016, such as the tale of how our next Vice President, Mike Pence was pressured to amend his state of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act under pressure from firms like Salesforce.

Of course, it can be debated that Corporate mega-giants aren’t motivated out of altruistic humanitarian concern, but by profits and the bottom line. Otherwise, would they really be peddling cheap products from China or avoiding paying a living wage to employees? Some individuals, including many millennials working for these companies do have those benevolent motivations, but the ‘little China’ of the traditional retail industry is motivated today to push forward for equality in large part because of this very blue map. See, the millennials voice really does have an impact on our society, even if the voter turnout left something to be desired, to be very sure.

The Advocate details the long checkered past of Walmart’s response to civil rights for LGBT employees and how they have progressed over the years. The retailer’s standing with the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for 2017 is at 100, which is admirable. It’s as the HRC calls it, ‘A bright spot in hard times,’ when the election has presented us all with a bleak forecast for the coming year in America for all minorities.

The fact that Walmart is pushing for transgender inclusion today is remarkable, given their conservative history in Bentonville, Arkansas. Traditional ‘values,’ based on religious interpretations appear to be changing after all, and the corporate motivation to follow the money has led to following other leaders in the Forbes 500 who have made diversity a priority. The next time you hear the argument from a conservative friend that ‘liberal elite’ notions from highfalutin universities are why we have come to support all this ‘equality bs,’ you might tell them that the notion of equality is also being advanced because of corporate interests by one of their likely bread and butter faves: Walmart. Where will evangelists protest now?

It also turns out that Walmart and the LGBTQA community might share a common antagonist today, and that’s President-elect Trump.

Walmarts history of labor practices may be targeted by Trump, according to Fortune.

‘An easy target for [Trump] are those companies that are holding down the hours of their part-time employees to avoid paying them benefits,’ management consultant Chris Malone told CNBC. ‘He could put some real pressure on Walmart  WMT 0.45%  to step up and do the right thing—reduce the burden on taxpayers for health-care coverage.’

Given Trump’s cabinet appointments, decide for yourself if he really will fight for the average American working a job without a living wage? Or will he be more inclined to ‘crony capitalism,’ as the unlikely Sarah Palin nailed it? We still have few days to opt for a different outcome in the Electoral College. What we could use this very minute is more vocal support for the Hamilton Electors from the top CEOs in the Forbes 500 list. That is, if they really do support the civil rights movement more than just in the corporate monetary gains sense.

Make the millennials happy. It’s the right thing to do for America’s future, with the bonus of helping the bottom line.

About Matthew Silvan 283 Articles
Matthew Silvan is a gay man from the American South who has spent years fighting against the scapegoating and demonization imposed on the LGBT community by Republicans and religious hypocrites and zealots. His writing reflects the constant struggle to overcome the inequality and discrimination still rampant in America. He is an advocate for diversity and progress, with a passion for nature and preserving the environment, who also tends to approach things in a lighthearted way despite it all.

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