The Bentonville, Ark., company will ask some vendors it works with, such as ad agencies, to hire and promote more women, said Deisha Galberth, a spokeswoman. The move mirrors programs the retailer previously announced, including efforts to buy more food from farmers located near its stores.
"We're stepping up our efforts to help educate, source from, and open markets for women around the world," chief executive officer Mike Duke said in a statement.
The moves to support women come as Wal-Mart is aggressively expanding internationally. In June, it completed a $2.4 billion acquisition of Massmart in South Africa.
It also is seeking to influence its core customers: Most of the 200 million people who shop every week at Wal-Mart globally are women, and they control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending.
The Supreme Court in June rejected an effort on behalf of as many as one million female workers to sue Wal-Mart for discrimination. The suit aimed to cover every woman who worked at the retailer's Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores at any point since December 1998.
Wal-Mart may still face smaller sexual-discrimination lawsuits in lower courts and claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"The Wal-Mart public-relations machine is spinning overtime on this," said Brian Sozzi, an analyst at Wall Street Strategies in New York. "They are doing their best job to try to get out in front of any potential future lawsuits, while at the same time appear better in the cases remaining."
In a conference call Wednesday with reporters, Sarah Thorn, a company spokeswoman, said increased support for female-owned suppliers was not related to the lawsuit.
The Associated Press contributed information to this article.