The Murder of George Floyd, One Year Later

May 25, 2021

4 Min. Read

May 25, 2021

The Murder of George Floyd, One Year Later

To: All U.S.-based associates
From: Doug McMillon, President and CEO

Today marks one year since the murder of George Floyd. The pain, anger and outrage it sparked throughout our country and around the world – from people of all races and colors – focused everyone’s attention in a way that hadn’t happened for a long time. It caused many of us to see more and learn more as it relates to racism, inequity and the systemic and long-standing realities that exist in our country. This was not an isolated event. We have a long history of racism, and we see unacceptable events continue. And we understand that this is more than just a policing reform or criminal justice conversation. The facts show that change is needed in our financial, education and healthcare systems, too.

One concern that was expressed at the time was that the focus would disappear. That there would be an intense moment of attention and talk, but once our focus turned elsewhere, the conversation would drop off, and there would be a sense of a return to the way things were. We can’t let that be the case.

Both within our company and beyond, the conversation has continued. There has been action and we’re seeing progress. Many of our associates have listened, learned, expressed empathy, grown and changed. Our transparency is up. We’re now reporting, in greater detail, our diversity metrics twice a year. Our percentage of African American and Black officers is increasing. To date, 95% of our officers have participated in two-day racial equity workshops. We’ve partnered with McKinsey & Co. to deliver one of the most comprehensive studies on Race in the Workplace: The Black Experience in the U.S. Private Sector to influence other companies to learn and change.

We’ve made progress with our Shared Value Networks (SVNs), which are focused on addressing issues across four systems: criminal justice, health, education and finance. We are building on our strong and collaborative working relationship with law enforcement by interfacing with police departments on the best way to engage with the Walmart community and address the concerns of our associates. We are providing the COVID-19 vaccine to underserved communities, including among Black and Hispanic populations. We’ve made a $5 million investment at North Carolina A&T State University to launch the Equity in Education Initiative which represents the largest corporate investment in that school to date. And we launched the Supplier Inclusion Advisory Council, whose mission is to foster, promote, grow, develop and retain a robust inclusive supply chain.

The $100 million we and the Walmart Foundation committed to creating the Center for Racial Equity has started making a difference, too. In February, we distributed the first set of grants totaling $14.3 million. Since then, we’ve also awarded grants in support of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

I’m encouraged by the progress we’re making. And we are not the only ones. Across the private sector, we’re seeing companies take action individually and collectively. Business Roundtable (BRT) is an organization of more than 200 of America’s largest companies. I’ve had the privilege of serving as the organization’s chair during the past year and a half. I’ve seen the commitment these companies are making at the highest levels to bring about meaningful change.

Companies are working to address the racial wealth gap by increasing transparency, changing hiring, pay and advancement practices, expanding access to quality education and investing in communities of color. Last summer, BRT established a Special Committee on Racial Equity and Justice that released a set of recommendations to promote bipartisan consensus on policing reform. That’s not an area where BRT would traditionally engage, but we were moved by this moment, and we see the connections between equity and a thriving U.S. economy.

Despite the progress, there is still much to be done. As positive momentum is being built in some areas, there are others where deeply alarming events continue to take place, like attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and more recently, Jewish Americans, or actions that divide us like those related to the LGBTQ+ community in Arkansas. Our people and their unique identities, experiences and perspectives are the key to the success of our company. Therefore, we stand against any form of hate toward individuals based on age, race, sexual orientation and identity, ethnicity or religion.

We must continue to address systemic racism and the structural inequities that are rooted in this nation’s history of slavery and that persist today. We are also reminded of this difficult legacy as we observe the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre later this week.

Walmart is committed to addressing these issues both within our walls and beyond. We have the resources, the talent and the will to do this. So, while today we pause to remember, tomorrow we will continue to act, because equity and justice are worth fighting for and working for. Our country cannot achieve its potential until we’ve faced these issues and overcome them, together.