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8 Feb 2007

Jonathan Birchall, Financial Times

Wal-Mart tries to show diverse side

Lee Scott, Wal-Mart's chief executive...appeared alongside Andrew Stern, head of the Service Employees International Union, one of the largest US unions, at an event to support healthcare reform – an unprecedented break with Wal-Mart's tradition of deep hostility towards anything involving organised labour...But...a federal appeals panel in California overturned the retailer's bid to block a massive class action lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 1.6m past and current women employees, accusing the company of [gender discrimination]...The process has led to one of the most dramatic efforts yet by a US company to reshape its image...At the same time, Wal-Mart has made some relatively low-profile attempts to address the issues raised by the discrimination lawsuit...[and] continuing its efforts in improving its record on diversity...