Exterior view of a Walmart store on August 23, 2020 in North Bergen, New Jersey. Walmart saw profits jump last quarter as e-commerce sales soared during the coronavirus pandemic.
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Walmart has announced efforts to recruit and develop a diverse workforce and fund a new center to promote racial justice – but the retail giant may need to attract its own black supervisors and managers first, according to a Bloomberg report.
An internal survey by Walmart found that, according to Bloomberg, which saw a copy, many black supervisors, senior managers and directors said they would not recommend the company to anyone.
Employees surveyed said they encounter obstacles in attempting to advance in their careers, such as unequal access to growth opportunities and dealing with favoritism and domestic politics. The results, from 56 high-ranking black employees, were presented to members of Walmart’s senior management late last year, according to Bloomberg.
Some employees were particularly critical, according to the Bloomberg report. “I’ve been here for 10 years and I’ve never recommended Walmart to anyone of color. I’ve recommended others to go,” said a Black director. “Pay, social benefits, not bad – but recommend? NO WAY. NO WAY.”
Walmart declined to provide a copy of the report to CNBC. A statement said the survey was “early research” and “unscientific and limited sample size”.
“Recruiting, developing and retaining all kinds of talent is a top priority for Walmart,” the company said. “While we’re proud of the progress we’ve made, we always take a critical look at our own systems and processes in order to achieve even more.”
Walmart, like many other large corporations, has grown louder in its commitment to diversity and inclusion, especially after the murder of George Floyd sparked protests across the country. Walmart and the company’s foundation have pledged $ 100 million over five years to fight systemic racism and create a center for racial justice. It started publishing reports on diversity and inclusion instead of twice a year, and established new mentoring programs. It also created Shared Value Networks, employee-led groups to study issues such as health, criminal justice, and education, and to make recommendations to a committee led by CEO Doug McMillon.
The survey was commissioned by one of these shared value networks, according to Walmart.
Walmart is the largest employer in the country with around 1.5 million employees. Black workers make up nearly 21% of the workforce, a percentage greater than the 13.4% percentage of black Americans of the US population. However, the representation of black employees at the higher levels of corporate management is dwindling. According to Walmart’s Equity and Inclusion Report 2020, black employees make up approximately 12% of those at the management level and 8% at the executive level.
However, Walmart has said it moves the needle. According to the annual report, the proportion of women and people of color increased by 1.03% and 0.61% respectively over the past year. The increase in blacks was due to a nearly 2% increase in black and African-American officers, the company said.