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Asda: discounting women?

It may not be quite two women for the price of one man, but Asda appears to have a problem with equal pay. The wider Walmart group, of which Asda is the UK arm has a long history of troubled labour relations – but you might expect a better outcome in the UK, since it is the only country in the world in which the company recognises unions.

On this issue of equal pay, the normal PR approach appears to be unraveling. Despite the prominent news coverage of the group action against the company, there is no press release on its website relating to the issue. Moreover the company response to the issue seems to be confined to this statement: “A firm of no-win, no-fee lawyers is hoping to challenge our award-winning reputation as an equal opportunities employer. We do not discriminate and are very proud of our record in this area which, if it comes to it, we will robustly defend.”

It is sad to see that what the company is concerned with is just its reputation, not its actual equal opportunities performance. The logic of this is that if it continues to perform well in good employer rankings, all is well, irrespective of any suffering on the ground.

There is a lesson in this for all those companies that are driven by reputation: if you focus on reputation, you will fall on your face; if you work on your performance, you may be graced with a better reputation.

 

 

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