Walmart has certainly faced its share of PR struggles over the past few months, but today the big-box leader announced an initiative that no one in his or her right mind could oppose: Beginning on Memorial Day, the company will have a job waiting for any United States military veteran who decides to apply.
The project only includes a couple of qualifiers:
- Vets must apply within the first 12 months of discharge
- Discharge must have been honorable
According to initial estimates, this will equal about 100,000 new jobs over the next five years. Can Walmart pull it off? In a word, yes. The organization claims to have an annual turnover rate of 37%, and its workforce is so large that it can comfortably guarantee work for every qualified applicant (which isn’t to say that all the jobs will be full-time or that they will be good, but still).
We’ll just come out and say it: this is a great PR move.
It complements Michelle Obama‘s recent veteran hiring initiatives while serving a community currently suffering from higher-than-average unemployment rates. The First Lady responded with a celebratory statement:
We all believe that no one who serves our country should have to fight for a job once they return home. Walmart is setting a groundbreaking example for the private sector to follow.
This piece on The Atlantic website tells us not to read too much into the move, which is just a (very generous) attempt to downplay headlines about poor labor practices, bad media relations and rampant corruption in Mexico. Author Jordan Weissman notes that Walmart hires nearly half a million people every year, so 100,000 over five years really isn’t such a big deal. Oh, and the company also gets a tax credit for hiring vets (many of whom will continue to receive military benefits). Big savings there.
So the move may not be quite as awesome at it appears on first glance, but we certainly can’t disparage the company for doing something nice.
Will it be enough to counter some of Walmart’s recent problems? And will other brands follow its lead?