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Walmart Inc. is losing another top female executive, the second to announce her departure in the past two weeks.

Gisel Ruiz, chief operations officer at the retailer's Sam's Club division, is taking early retirement to "pursue other passions," Bloomberg reported Friday citing an internal memo dated Wednesday from Sam's Club Chief Executive Officer John Furner. Walmart's top human resources executive, Jacqui Canney, said on Feb. 27 that she's taking a job with global advertising firm WPP.

Canney issued a news release Friday, which was International Women's Day, that celebrated the accomplishments of Walmart's female employees and touted the opportunities the retailer offers to help women to grow and advance in their careers.

Walmart has had a difficult time recruiting and retaining women in senior leadership roles. Rosalind Brewer, Sam's Club chief executive officer for five years, left the company to join Starbucks Corp. in 2017. Marybeth Hays, Walmart's executive vice president of consumables and health and wellness, left in January after just over a year in that job.

Walmart hired Janey Whiteside for the newly created role of chief customer officer in 2018, but positions in operations are the ones that lead to the senior executive posts. Judith McKenna, who heads Walmart's international division, is among the few women in one of those key roles.

In September 2011, then-chief executive Mike Duke introduced Walmart's Global Women's Economic Empowerment Initiative, a five-year effort aimed at improving economic conditions and creating opportunities for women in its global workforce and among its suppliers.

Earlier that year, Walmart avoided having to defend itself in the class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit Dukes v. Wal-mart when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the class of roughly 1.5 million women was too large. In the years since, though, women have been filing individual lawsuits claiming they were paid less than their male co-workers and passed over for promotions.

Ruiz began working at Walmart more than 25 years ago as a management trainee, according to a biography on the corporate website. She has previously served as executive vice president for Walmart's international people division, overseeing more than a million employees in 26 countries. Prior to that, she was the chief operating officer for Walmart U.S.

She has received numerous awards over the years, and was named one of the 50 most powerful women in business by Fortune magazine four times. Ruiz is currently on the board of directors for Walmart's operations in Mexico and Central America.

Taking Ruiz's position starting April 15 will be Dacona Smith, senior vice president of Walmart's operations in the western U.S.

Business on 03/09/2019

Print Headline: Sam's Club top female exec to retire

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