Wherever you fall on the religious spectrum, the day of the Passover seder is busy. You’re either frantically working to make sure your seder is all good to go, hurrying to finish work so you can get where you’re going on time or traveling trying to make it to a new destination.
When hosting, there is food to make or set up, last-minute things to get, taking care of kids, all before the sun goes down.
If you’re religious, this also includes preparing for three full days of a Passover holiday with the way it falls out this year — the holiday has two days that are basically treated like Shabbat and then it moves right into Shabbat as well.
This year, Walmart scheduled their Beauty Supplier Summit on Wednesday, April 5, a.k.a. Erev Pesach. The event is in Arkansas. This means that any Jewish person who wants to attend and celebrate Pesach has to choose between the two. This is not a choice for many — Passover is a non-negotiable holiday to observe.
The event is for existing beauty suppliers and the only chance to meet in person with your Walmart buying team. These are people essential to the survival of sales as they need to be on top of their responsibilities in order for things to succeed. At the event, suppliers can speak to them about sales, line extensions, changes to where the product will be on shelves and more. For a seller, that focus is crucial and can make or break their bottom line. In the rocky economic times we are in, these kinds of opportunities are more important than ever.
Even if the Jewish person happens to live close to the event in Arkansas, Erev Pesach is an incredibly busy day focused on holiday preparations and it would be difficult to focus on making sure the work at the Summit gets the meaningful attention it needs in order to make an impact on one’s business.
In reaching out to Walmart for comment, they responded swiftly saying:
“Walmart absolutely encourages and welcomes all suppliers at the summit and has also included a virtual viewing option for those who are unable to attend in person. Please let me know if there is supplier who needs any information or has any questions at all.”
Even a virtual option is difficult on Passover eve. Plus, a beauty supplier is still missing out on the advantage of being able to attend in person, something non-Jews are able to do. Yes, Jews can watch part of the event, but they are missing the only in-person meeting at Walmart HQ all year for beauty suppliers to interact with their Walmart buying teams.
For an event that only happens once a year, they could have easily chosen a different day.
In a further response to that, Walmart said:
“Please do let me know if we can provide them with any additional information or if they have any questions. Perhaps we could see if they could connect with our merchant on a different day for follow up. We do have a strong supplier diversity program, more details are noted here https://corporate.walmart.com/suppliers/supplier-inclusion”
It is nice that Walmart is making the effort to speak to Jewish suppliers, but that should have been done ahead of time, ensuring that important industry events don’t conflict with big religious holidays that cut out an entire religion’s ability to go.
While their diversity and inclusion statement is impressive, it fails to include Jews, especially in this case.
In stores, they offer Kosher for Passover matzah, grape juice and often a wide variety of kosher items with the date of Passover’s start on the top of the section. They know when Passover is. This is not an example of an oversight. A situation like this is especially disappointing because in this case, they are directly impacting a Jewish person’s business. They are including Jews when it comes to selling, but when it comes to Jews selling to them, they are seemingly less inclined.
We followed up with Walmart asking if they would have a make-up event for Jewish suppliers who are missing out and if they would be open to Jewish sensitivity trainings to make sure they don’t exclude Jews in the future. We are currently in talks with them on the matter. We are hopeful with the response we are getting and look forward to sharing positive updates.