1. Why is diversity an imperative for Walmart and how do you define diversity?
Considering the changing demographics here in the U.S. and with our continued growth in international markets, being diverse and inclusive in today’s global economy is more than a concept and a good practice – it’s a central component of our long-term business success. That is why our diversity and inclusion purpose supports our company’s effort to sustain business growth, not only for tomorrow, but in the coming decades.
We believe that by embracing different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, our associates grow and our customers benefit. Inclusion builds on that foundation by engaging and leveraging the unique strengths of every associate. When our associates are connected and engaged, we position ourselves to be more innovative, and to better understand and serve our customers and communities.
2. What are Walmart’s diversity goals domestically and what are you specifically doing to make major strides in this area?
To support our business objectives, we center our efforts on four focus areas under two strategic pillars – diversity in our workforce and inclusion in our workplace. We are committed to:
- Building a global diverse talent pipeline to attract the best and brightest talent;
- Cultivating diversity of thought to leverage unique perspectives and achieve the best business solutions;
- Inviting and connecting everyone to nurture a strong culture of inclusiveness; and
- Offering our associates career and developmental opportunities to leverage their full potential.
3. What metrics does Walmart use to measure success in diversity domestically and internationally?
When we talk about metrics in relation to diversity and inclusion, we start with the question, “What does success look like?” For us, our success indicators are innovative breakthroughs and high performing teams. We measure these indicators in a number of ways, using for example: workforce demographics, our associate opinion survey, associate feedback through our intranet site and Town Hall meetings, and through hiring and retention rates. We are currently expanding these measures to include an inclusion survey and interactive learning programs to help associates develop a greater understanding of the value of diverse perspectives, and to increase cultural competencies across every level of our organization.
One example is our Diversity Goals program, which holds specific leadership positions accountable to meet specific diversity and inclusion goals. More than 55,000 managers in our U.S. operations are accountable for meeting diversity goals.
4. What are the positives and challenges you face in running diversity for Walmart both domestically and internationally? How do the domestic and international issues compare and contrast?
Our diversity and inclusion strategy and initiatives are designed to encourage high level engagement, maintain an inclusive culture, and cultivate diversity of thought to drive innovative business solutions. Focusing on these measures increases the level of trust throughout our organization, which in turn sustains our business growth.
With 2.1 million associates worldwide, we have the benefit of the rich diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that our associates share with us. Being a large company also has its challenges. Some of the questions we continually ask ourselves are:
- What are the best ways to connect our associates across our different business units and countries, so that everyone understands both our mission to save people money so they can live better, and our culture of respect and inclusion;
- What are the best ways that we can empower individuals in every global market to address the diversity and inclusion issues that are most relevant to different countries and cultures. We recognize that a “one-size-fits-all” model isn’t the answer.
5. In your opinion, which Fortune 500 companies stand out for their leadership in diversity? What makes those corporations’ approach to diversity most impressive to you?
I am most impressed with companies that seem to be taking the principles of diversity and inclusion to an even greater level of impact. Sodexo, for example, is exemplary in its leadership commitment to accountability and metrics, and in extending that commitment outside of the company to cultivate a diverse network of suppliers. Deloitte integrates diversity and inclusion practices into the company’s business plan through succession planning, talent acquisition and leadership development. I appreciate what appears to be a high level of engagement within the company’s employee resource groups, particularly in the areas of recruitment and diversity training.
There are a number of other companies that appear to be doing incredible things in diversity and inclusion. We regularly share best practices with companies such as McDonald’s, General Mills, Coca Cola and PepsiCo. In fact, Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, will speak with our associates in July about the importance of diversity and developing a global mindset. We are honored that she is taking time from her busy schedule to visit us. I personally cannot wait to talk with her about her own journey, and how PepsiCo empowers its employees within the framework of their own guiding principles to sustain business growth.
5. Tell us about your life personally. Where were you born, raised and what did you study?
I was born in Pasadena, California and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I graduated from the University of Denver magna cum laude with a double major in Political Science and Speech Communication.
6. Tell us about your career’s trajectory and what led you to come to the role you now have with Walmart?
After college, I spent 17 years with Foot Locker in field operations and Human Resources, then went on to almost three years at Sports Authority as Vice President of H.R. I joined Walmart in 2003 as Vice President of H.R. for Sam’s Club and was later promoted to Senior Vice President of H.R. for Sam’s Club. I came into my new role in January 2011, as Global Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Vice President of Corporate Human Resources.
7. Who were your childhood heroes and what did they teach you?
My childhood heroes included Rosa Parks, Gloria Steinem and Martin Luther King, Jr. As an adult, my heroes are Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Their examples have taught me the importance of speaking out and standing up for what I believe in.
8. Tell us something that would surprise most people who know you?
My childhood home in Colorado Springs is now a public education center on environmental sustainability. It is known as the Catamount Institute, Beidleman Environmental Center at Sondermann Park.
Disclosure: Manny Ruiz, publisher of Hispanic PR Blog, was invited (expenses paid) by Walmart to attend the annual shareholders’ meeting.