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Walmart outlines effort to diversify

Retailer looking beyond company by Serenah McKay | April 27, 2021 at 2:05 a.m.
This undated file photo shows Wal-Mart's sign in front of its Bentonville headquarters.

Walmart Inc. released a report Monday that details its progress over the past year in advancing diversity and inclusion in society and within the company.

The 2020 Culture, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report covers the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31. The report was initially issued annually, but the company said in September it would begin publishing twice a year.

Walmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said in the report that the company's goal has been "to build on the work we've done to create a culture where everyone feels they belong -- where dignity and respect are the basis for how we interact and support each other."

But working within Walmart is only part of what the retailer can do, McMillon said. "We have a responsibility to help bring about change beyond the walls of our company," he said.

McMillon said Walmart's efforts to accomplish this have included bringing covid-19 vaccinations to under-served areas; establishing the Center for Racial Equity within the Walmart Foundation; and creation of four Shared Value Networks to address the root causes of racial disparity in the nation's financial, health care, education and criminal justice systems.

Shared Value Networks are employee groups that work to solve social challenges by identifying opportunities in which Walmart can use its resources to influence racial equity at scale, according to the report.

Ben-Saba Hasan, Walmart's global chief culture, diversity, equity and inclusion officer, said in a company blog post that Walmart's work to promote racial equity is "multifaceted." However, three themes have emerged from it, he said.

These are: "representation matters; education is the foundation of progress; and we're investing in change."

Women and people of color made inroads into officer positions over the past year, Hasan said. The report defines people of color as Black, Asian, LatinX, Native American/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and members of two or more races.

In positions from vice president and up, the number of women grew 1.03% over the previous year and the number of people of color rose 0.61%. Hasan said the latter was driven by a 1.97% increase in the number of Black officers.

The number of women in U.S. management positions rose 0.026% year over year. That was likely aided by a 7.69% increase in promotions from hourly to management roles, Hasan said, and a 4.46% gain in total management promotions for women.

Hasan's blog post did not include the year-over-year percentage of people of color in management.

The report is chock full of statistics that serve as a snapshot of the current workforce, rather than a comparison with previous years.

For instance, of the more than 480,000 workers hired in the U.S., 55% were people of color, 49.42% were women, and 18.02% were LatinX.

In the U.S., 32.83% of officers are women, but only 8.42% are women of color. Likewise, 45.94% of managers are women, but only 17.37% are women of color. And 55.41% of hourly workers are women, while 26.86% are women of color.

Walmart currently employees 2.22 million workers worldwide. Of those, 1.53 million work in the U.S.

The Bentonville-based retailer's education initiatives include a two-day Racial Equity Institute workshop that all U.S.-based officers must attend. The company also introduced a self-paced race and inclusion curriculum that all of Walmart's more than 1.5 million U.S. employees can access.

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