Walmart's Black senior managers give the company low marks, report says

Key Points
  • An internal survey by Walmart found many high-ranking Black employees wouldn't recommend working there, according to a Bloomberg report.
  • Walmart, the country's largest employer, has been vocal about recruiting and promoting a diverse workforce and putting millions of dollars toward advancing racial equity.
  • Black employees make up nearly 21% of the retailer's workforce, but representation dwindles at the higher rungs of the corporate ladder.

In this article

Exterior view of a Walmart store on August 23, 2020 in North Bergen, New Jersey
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Walmart has touted efforts to recruit and promote a diverse workforce and fund a new center to advance racial equity — but the retail giant may have to win over its own Black supervisors and managers first, according to a Bloomberg report.

An internal survey by Walmart found that many Black supervisors, senior managers and directors said they would not recommend the company to others, according to Bloomberg, which saw a copy.
The employees who were surveyed said they faced barriers when trying to advance in their careers, such as having unequal access to growth opportunities and coping with favoritism and internal politics. The findings, which came from 56 high-ranking Black employees, were presented to members of Walmart's senior leadership late last year, according to Bloomberg.

Some employees were especially critical, according to the Bloomberg report. "I have been here 10 years and I have never recommended Walmart to a person of color. I have recommended others to leave," one Black director said. "Pay, benefits, not bad — but recommend? NEVER. EVER."

 Walmart declined to provide a copy of the report to CNBC. It said in a statement that the survey was "early research" and it had an "unscientific and limited sample size."

"Hiring, developing, and retaining diverse talent is a top priority for Walmart," the company said. "While we are proud of the progress we have made, we are always looking at our own systems and processes with a critical eye for ways we can do even more."

Walmart, like many other major corporations, has become more vocal about its commitment to diversity and inclusion, especially after George Floyd's murder sparked protests across the country. Walmart and the company's foundation pledged $100 million over five years to fight systemic racism and create a Center for Racial Equity. It began putting out diversity and inclusion reports twice a year instead of once and established new mentorship programs. It also created "shared value networks," employee-led groups to study topics like health, criminal justice and education and make recommendations to a committee led by CEO Doug McMillon.

The survey was commissioned by one of those shared value networks, according to Walmart.

Walmart is the country's largest employer with about 1.5 million workers. Black employees make up nearly 21% of its workforce, a larger percentage than the 13.4% share of Black Americans among the U.S. population. However, representation of Black employees dwindles at the higher rungs of the corporate ladder. Black employees make up about 12% of employees at the management level and 8% at the officer level, according to Walmart's 2020 equity and inclusion report.

Walmart has said it is moving the needle, however. Its representation of women and people of color rose by 1.03% and 0.61%, respectively, over the past year, according to its annual report. The increase in people of color was driven by a nearly 2% rise in Black and African American officers, the company said.

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