Walmart has hired more people of color, but not at the executive or boardroom level, new report shows


Retired AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stevenson, who is White, joined Walmart’s board of directors in March. He’s the only director on Walmart’s 12-member board appointed since the police murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, which motivated Walmart’s leaders to create a $100 million center on racial equity program less than two weeks later.

AT&T is the parent company of WarnerMedia, which owns CNN.

Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon took the issue of racial inequality head on during one of the company’s virtual employee meetings more than a year ago.

“The murder of George Floyd is tragic, painful, and unacceptable,” McMillon told Walmart’s global employees in June 2020. “Words and feelings matter, but they are not enough. More action is required. We will find new ways to accelerate the desired changes inside our company and we will also find the ways that our business can influence real change in our country.”

A customer hands cash to an employee while making a purchase at a Walmart location in Burbank, California on November 16, 2017.
Walmart (WMT) is the nation’s largest private employer by far, with more than 2 million employees on its global payroll, 1.5 million of them in the United States alone, according to the company’s latest diversity, equity and inclusion report. Amazon is a distant second, with 798,000 employees as recently as 2019, according to Fortune.
McMillon said in June 2020 that roughly 340,000 of Walmart’s employees are Black. The company’s latest report confirms that more than 20% of its employees were Black as recently as July. They also make up the largest non-White employee segment of Walmart’s workforce. African Americans made up 11.9% of the US population in 2020, according to the latest US Census.

Yet only about 9% of Walmart’s corporate officers are African American, the company’s latest demographic data confirms. The company says that’s a 2.28% increase from this time last year.

Black members of Walmart’s executive leadership team include executive vice president of neighborhood markets Kelvin L. Buncum, senior vice president and chief global culture, diversity, equity & inclusion officer Ben Hasan and Dr. Cheryl Pegus, the company’s executive vice president of health & wellness.
Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart US, became the latest African American to join Walmart’s executive leadership team in February 2020. He and Walmart US executive vice president Latriece Watkins, who oversees the company’s consumables business operations, round out the five Black Walmart executive managers out of 48 executive level positions (roughly 10%), according to its leadership web page.
An employee restocks frozen food products at a Walmart store in Burbank, California, on November 26, 2019.

Latinos make up nearly 18% of Walmart’s employee population, but just 5.5% of the company’s officers, according to the report. Asian people, who represent more than 4% of the retailer’s employees, comprise more than 10% of its managers and 9% of its officers. White people make up more than 53% of Walmart’s workforce and represent more than 63% of its managers and 74% of its officers.

The report also says people of color make up more than 46% of Walmart’s workforce, but the company’s website shows Black and Brown Americans comprise only about 16.7% of Walmart’s 12-member board of directors.

NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde is the only Latin American on Walmart’s board of directors. He and Morgan Stanley Vice Chair of Wealth Management Carla A. Lewis, who is Black, are the only people of color on Walmart’s board.
People of color saw a slight uptick in promotions from hourly employees to management positions, which increased more than two percentage points between January and July, according to Walmart’s 2020 end-of-year DEI report.

In its most recent DEI report, Walmart pointed out marginal gains women have made at the officer level, as well as the May launch of its Accessibility Center of Excellence, which is designed to advance equity and inclusion for people with disabilities.

“Although we have made progress, we still have more work to do,” the company told CNN Business Friday via email.


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