The Walmart victory is depressing and disheartening. But after the rage, two issues stand out which women should pay attention to.
It's Not Just Walmart
Walmart has been exceptional in its determination to admit nothing and fight to the bitter end, using the force of its financial muscle to avoid taking the issue of discrimination to heart. But look at their allies: Microsoft and General Electric (yes, that's the same GE that works so hard not to pay taxes) both wrote to the Supreme Court expressing their concern at the Walmart case. While women have been making tremendous progress in business ownership, we still encounter resistance, hostility and exclusion in these vast corporations that neither purchase from women-owned businesses not do much to create the cultures in which women can flourish. Have they even considered the message that their support for women sends to the women in their workforce? How great does it feel to know that your employer really doesn't want the law to judge vast discrimination cases?
Melissa Hart, a law professor at the University of Colorado, has commented that U.S. courts are increasingly hostile to any court action pressing for systemic change. Make no mistake: systemic change is what women have always needed and continue to need. And systemic change is exactly what companies like Microsoft and GE are so afraid of.
Women Still Lack Solidarity
One of the frustrating characteristics of the women's movement has been our reluctance to stick together -- in particular, for executive and professional women to ally with the lower paid sisters. The problem that we face as women is that such a vast number of women still shop at Walmart. A Walmart boycott would have had more effect, a great deal faster, than this slow tragic lawsuit.