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.
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