From Huff Po:
Target is cutting down on its use of gender-based signage -- and not everyone is happy about it.
Last week, the mega-retailer announced on its blog, A Bullseye View, that it will no longer have signs with "boy" and "girl" qualifiers in certain departments, like toys and bedding.
"We know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary," Target noted on its blog. "Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance."
Critics took to Twitter to speak out against Target's upcoming "androgynous signs," arguing that the changes will make it harder for shoppers to find what they're looking for. Some customers said they will no longer shop at Target. Writing at BizPac Review last week, Michael Dorstewitz quipped: "One has to wonder where this will end. The White House announced in April that it was installing a gender-neutral bathroom in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the West Wing. Ike must be rolling over in his grave about that one."
Others celebrated the retailer's announcement. Rachel Simmons, co-founder of the empowerment and anti-bullying group Girls Leadership, said it was "a huge deal that Target is going gender-neutral."
“Target is a trendsetter," Simmons told ABC News on Monday. "Retailers have an incredible opportunity here. They're opening up a whole world of possibility for these kids."
The move comes two months after Ohio mom Abi Bechtel called out the retailer for a particularly questionable sign in one of its stores.
Five months later, that victory is turning into a double-edged one for the company, given that the raise isn't reaching every Walmart store employee equally. Some workers are complaining that new employees are receiving relatively big step-ups in pay, bringing the recent hires' pay close to their own. Others aren't seeing any raise at all, according to Bloomberg News.
"It took me four four years to get to $10.80. When minimum wage goes up we don't receive a pay increase unless we are under the minimum," one worker wrote in a comment on Walmart's corporate blog. "Now our 2 newest associates are making $10.75 and my annual raise is going from 40 cents down to 26 cents. Apparently experience does't get rewarded."
Under Walmart's pay hike, all current workers are slated to earn at least $9 an hour, or $1.75 higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Next February, wages will rise to at least $10 an hour. New hires are also now starting at $9 an hour and moving to $10 an hour in 2016, which is one reason why more senior employees are feeling burned.
"You work someplace for five or 10 years, and you get these raises that are cents per hour -- then the company does this thing they get praised for, but you aren't seeing a benefit from that," Mackenzie Barris, a field organizer for Jobs With Justice, a worker rights nonprofit whose campaigns include Change Walmart, told CBS MoneyWatch. "Of course you'll feel that's not fair."
One employee wrote on Walmart's blog that she does "not appreciate" receiving the same pay as a new worker. "What incentive do I get for my experience and knowledge?" she wrote.
Some employees told Bloomberg News they believe their hours have been cut and annual raises lowered in order to pay for the higher wages for new workers. The company told the news organization that it's making sure all workers have the chance to step into higher-paying positions.
Whether Walmart executives should have foreseen the hard feelings caused by its uneven pay raises is debatable. On the one hand, the company had been under pressure from labor activists and policy makers to boost its pay, given that many of its workers are forced to rely on public assistance to make ends meet.
As America's largest private employer, more than 1.3 million people work at its stores, meaning that any pay increase will likely have a positive impact on thousands of families and communities.
"We had more than 500,000 associates who received two raises this year. Every associate at Walmart at least once a year receives an annual increase -- the 500,000 were people who received an increase on top of that," a Walmart spokesman wrote in an email.
Walmart U.S. human resources chief Kristin Oliver told Bloomberg that it understood some employees would feel left out by its wage increase. She added, "We weren't prepared to go forward with any additional increases but have continued to look at it to see if there is something else we should do for those in the middle."
Workers are sensitive not only to what they bring home in their paycheck, but also what their co-workers are earning. That's a lesson that was learned by Gravity Payments founder Dan Price, who earlier this year was lauded for his decision to boost pay for all workers -- regardless of experience or skill -- to $70,000. At the time, he told CBS MoneyWatch that one employee had expressed concern that lower-ranking workers would see pay increases, while others would not.
While Price was seen as a fighter for income equality, his pay raises didn't turn out to be as successful as he had imagined they would be, according to The New York Times. Two of his highly valued employees quit, partly because they felt the pay hikes were unfair when more senior staff had received little or no raises.
Like Gravity Payments, Walmart appears to be hampered by the unintended consequences of its pay move. Still, Jobs With Justice's Barris said that many Walmart employees have felt the company's management doesn't listen or respect them, with the latest snafu just another example of that behavior.
"Raising that bottom wage is symbolic, but doesn't respond to the men and women who work that their stores for years and years, feeling they aren't fully respected," she said.
(REUTERS/Joshua Lott) The new 142,000 square foot Wal-Mart is seen hours before the grand opening in Chicago, September 27, 2006.
Wal-Mart is making a major change to many of its stores.
Even though the retailer is known for being a 24-hour store, roughly 40 of its 24-hour supercenters will close for a few hours a night, Bloomberg reports.
"It’s something that is monitored in terms of customer shopping habits, and when we monitor customer shopping habits ... we see peak shopping hours are during the daytime and early evening hours," Brian Nick, Wal-Mart's director of media relations, explained to Business Insider. "Closing the store for … a few hours during the night does provide us an opportunity to reallocate resources and get the store in the kind of condition we want for customers when they’re shopping our stores most frequently."
In 2013, Bloomberg reported that customers were choosing to skip shopping at Wal-Mart for other supercenters, like Target and Costco, because shelves were not stocked.
This decision may or may not greatly affect the employees who had been working the overnight shift.
"Associates currently working overnight in a position that would no longer be needed will in many cases be offered a position within the store," Nick said to Business Insider. "And second that would be the potential to be transferred to a nearby store, and if those two options weren't chosen — then if an associated decide just on their own tenure or timing or anything like that they wanted to choose severance, severance is available to full-time associates who have been working for the company for a year." He said he expected most associates to be transferred.
Nick told Business Insider this change is something there will be more of throughout Wal-Mart supercenters.
Wal-Mart has been making several changes as of late. The company recently made an attempt to shake its image as a low-paying retailer by promising to raise all of its employees wages to $10 — at minimum — by February 2016. Additionally, Wal-Mart has been implementing high-quality produce departments, to the point the retailer could rival Trader Joe's and Whole Foods as a grocer.
The company is also stepping up its register game by testing a new barcode-scanning technology service to eviscerate long lines.