Responding to the mass protests that have been catalyzed by the death of George Floyd in police custody, Walmart will commit $100 million over the next five years to create a new center on racial equity. This organization will support philanthropic initiatives aligning with four key areas: the financial, health care, education and criminal justice systems.
“To influence and lead change, we are going to use the power of Walmart to invest resources and develop strategies to increase fairness, equity, and justice in aspects of everyday life,” said Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart in a statement. “We will find the natural overlaps between Walmart’s core business and society’s larger needs that perpetuate racism and discrimination. We will take actions to influence them in a positive direction, consistent with our human values of decency and equity.”
The retail giant already has dedicated internal teams to begin tackling Walmart’s policies and actions in the four areas:
- Financial/business practices: The retailer plans to address minority supplier and marketplace seller development, driving level playing fields and economic access to minority-owned businesses;
- Health care: Walmart will offer greater accessibility to better health and wellness through its existing businesses in this area, including growing the Walmart Health Clinics and digital wellness efforts;
- Education: The retailer will strengthen academic support efforts such as Live Better U, and create broader and deeper ties through Walmart recruiting programs with historically black colleges and universities; and
- Criminal justice: Walmart will review and evolve hiring processes to ensure nonviolent, formerly incarcerated applicants are appropriately considered as they enter the workforce.
Noting that Walmart employs more than 340,000 black and African-American associates, McMillon added that he has personally heard from many associates, leaders and members of the Walmart community. “Overwhelmingly, people are hurting,” he said. “There is an intense sense of pain, fatigue and frustration. Let me say clearly to our black and African-American associates and communities, we hear you. We see you. I want you to know you are valued.”
McMillon, who chairs the Business Roundtable, an organization comprised of more than 200 of America’s largest companies, said that many CEOs he has spoken to also are committed to taking actions to combat racism and its effects.
“It can’t just be Walmart doing this work because the challenges are deep and systematic, and so the solutions need to be broad and societal,” said McMillon. “Just like with a healthy planet, without a healthy society there is no core business. It’s all connected.”