Wal-Mart loses a female executive....promotes another to Chief Diversity Officer

by Aman Singh Das | June 22, 2009

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Earlier in June, Wal-Mart (WMT) pledged to increase diversity at its annual shareholders' meeting and announced the creation of a global women's council. Today, it announced its new Chief Diversity Officer.L. Mecole "Cole" Brown, a staff attorney, will oversee diversity strategy and initiatives for the retailer's US operations. Ms. Brown has served with Wal-Mart since 2002 as vice president of employment practices.

She takes the reins of Wal-Mart at a difficult time. Wal-mart has been embroiled in a class action suit since 2001 when six female employees sued the retailer for sex discrimination. It gained class certification in 2004 as the largest such suit ever filed against a private employer, with the possibility of eventually impacting as many as two million female workers. The class certification, which the retailer has fiercely challenged, is up for ruling under a federal circuit court this fall and might end up in the Supreme Court.

Not only that. Their statistics tell a troubling tale. 73% of their leadership team is male while 80% of Wal-Mart shoppers are female. Further: Executive Vice President (for benefits and risk management) Linda Dillman, one of the company's highest-ranking women, announced her resignation earlier this month.

That leaves one female executive among CEO Mike Duke's eight direct reports before today's announcement of Ms. Brown's new role: Executive Vice-President of People Susan Chambers.

However, seems like the push to change has already begun. This year, Wal-Mart returns to our annual Diversity publication that we publish in partnership with minority organization INROADS. Stay tuned for the latest submission on their diversity recruitment initiatives and retention statistics.

Filed Under: CSR

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