Walmart is donating $ 14 million as a part of a wider pledge to advertise racial justice

Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart.

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Following the George Floyd protests, Walmart pledged to empower diversity within its own ranks and to contribute $ 100 million over five years to combating systemic racism across the country.

The company issued an update on these efforts on Monday. Walmart and its foundation will distribute the first $ 14.3 million to 16 nonprofits. The grants are given to groups that deal with racial inequalities in a variety of ways, such as: For example, to educate color communities about Covid-19 vaccines, lower debt for students at historically black colleges and universities, and provide remote internet access and technology to children attending school.

Walmart is one of many companies that have promised to use their money and weight to help eradicate racial differences after Floyd's murder. However, as the country's largest employer and retailer, its actions have an additional meaning. The company's CEO, Doug McMillon, also leads the Business Roundtable, a strong corporate voice made up of many of the country's best-known business leaders.

When the company first made its commitment in June, McMillon admitted that companies – including Walmart – need to do more than just write checks. He said the company would also do better within its four walls by recruiting and supporting diverse talent.

Black employees make up about 21% of the 1.5 million US Walmart workforce, according to the company's latest Diversity and Inclusion report. That diversity, however, is dwindling in the top positions at Walmart. About 12% of the company's managers and 7% of its senior executives are black.

Walmart hired longtime associate Kirstie Sims to lead the company's Racial Justice Center, which will focus on inequalities in four key areas: finance, healthcare, education and criminal justice.

Kirstie Sims, Senior Director of the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity

Walmart

Originally from Arkansas, Sims started working at the big box retailer to pay back student loans and planned to move into the healthcare industry. At Walmart, however, she said she found she could build a career spanning over 20 years and move up to leadership positions – something she wants other employees, including other black women, to experience. Prior to her new position, she was Senior Director, Global Ethics and Compliance at Walmart.

Walmart has made other changes in the past few months to promote racial justice. It will publish a report on diversity and inclusion twice a year instead of annually. It will work with the largest historically black university in the country, North Carolina A&T State University, to increase the number of black college graduates entering high-demand areas. In November, two new Walmart Health locations opened in Chicago offering low-cost medical appointments. It has also joined the One Ten Coalition, a group of American companies committed to training, hiring, and promoting one million black Americans over the next decade.

According to Sims, Walmart is researching how its business practices can make a difference, too. For example, it can expand access to affordable health care in communities in need by opening Walmart Health locations, promoting black-owned businesses through the use of more than suppliers, and giving applicants a second chance to get back into the criminal justice system after serving in the criminal justice system To enter society.

"Progress is slow at times, but with the work, strength and dedication behind it, we will make changes," she said.

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