An edited version of this opinion editorial by Gisel Ruiz appeared in USA TODAY.
Last year, Walmart promoted more than 160,000 hourly associates. That’s like giving every person living in Dayton, Ohio, a promotion – and it happens year after year at Walmart. Likewise, nearly three-quarters of our store management team started out in hourly positions.
What other company can say that? We are committed to offering opportunity to people from all walks of life – everything from first jobs to meaningful careers. Where else today can talented people, regardless of their formal education, rise through the ranks to achieve the American dream? And Walmart continues to invest in America. In the midst of the worst unemployment crisis in years, we are creating new jobs when they are needed most.
By providing 1.4 million people with meaningful work – and everyday low prices to tens of millions of customers – Walmart does a world of good for working families in America.
This topic is very personal to me: I am honored to help lead our 1.4 million people, and I’ve been proud to call myself a Walmart associate for 20 years. I joined the company in 1992 as an hourly management trainee in Madera, California, and Walmart has offered me nothing but opportunity.
This is a fact: we typically pay as much or more than our competition, and our starting pay is above many union starting wages. Additionally, our health care coverage is in the top tier for retail, and we pay the majority of costs for the more than one million associates and family members on our plans. Finally, our scheduling system is fair to our associates and helps us best serve our customers by making sure our stores are staffed when customers come to shop.
We know that in a company of our size there will always be some individuals who have concerns. That’s not a surprise, and when associates raise concerns we take them seriously and do our best to fix them. The real question for me is whether Walmart’s leadership team is doing our best to do right by our people. I believe we are, and we work hard every day to do even better. In fact, just last week we paid out more than $200 million in quarterly bonuses to 88 percent of eligible store associates, so they can share in the success of our company.
There are three key points for me – our associate satisfaction scores are higher than the retail industry average; our turnover rate is lower than the industry average; and 300,000 people have more than ten years of service with Walmart.
Why are they so loyal to our company? Because they know that Walmart is loyal to them and that there is no limit to what they can achieve here. I’m proud of our jobs, and I’m especially proud of the associates who work for Walmart every day.