Home News Wal-Mart Receives American Bar Association Award for Outstanding Achievements in Promoting Diversity

Wal-Mart Receives American Bar Association Award for Outstanding Achievements in Promoting Diversity

Wal-Mart Poised to Expand its Award-Winning
Supplier Diversity Program

MIAMI, Feb. 12, 2007 – The American Bar Association recognized Wal-Mart’s accomplishments in promoting diversity in the legal profession with the ABA’s prestigious 2007 “Spirit of Excellence Corporate Award.”  Wal-Mart was nominated for this annual ABA diversity award by the National Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms, the Association of Corporate Counsel, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association and the ABA’s Minority Counsel Program. The “Spirit of Excellence Award” was established in 1996 by the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity to celebrate the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession.

This year’s Corporate Award recognized Wal-Mart for the Company’s achievements in promoting diversity both within its Legal Department and among the hundreds of law firms that serve Wal-Mart as outside counsel. Wal-Mart Executive Vice President and General Counsel Tom Mars accepted the award at the ABA’s mid-year meeting in Miami on Saturday. While accepting the award on behalf of Wal-Mart, Mars told the audience of more than 800 lawyers and judges that Wal-Mart was poised to expand its much-praised diversity initiative to other professional service providers and to key food and merchandise suppliers.

“We’re very proud that our commitment to diversity has earned this recognition from the ABA and that our diversity program is being cited as an example to other companies,” Mars said. “The credit for this honor goes first and foremost to our CEO, Lee Scott, who set the tone at the top and encouraged us to become a corporate leader in diversity. The rest of the credit belongs to the many dedicated Wal-Mart lawyers whose passion for diversity and excellence is the driving force behind Wal-Mart creating a world class legal department – one that was recently described as the most diverse of any large law department in corporate America.”

Wal-Mart’s Chief Merchandising Officer and Executive Vice President, John Fleming, added,  “Taking this pilot program to the next level will allow Wal-Mart to make an even more dramatic impact on the advancement of diversity in corporate America. There’s no doubt that the expansion of our law firm diversity program to other key suppliers has the potential to create significant new opportunities for minorities and women to gain experience, exposure, and influence in dozens of America’s most prominent and successful companies. This initiative is also fully consistent with our business objective of being more relevant to a broader range of customers.”

In the more than four years since Mars was placed in charge of the Wal-Mart Legal Department, his team has made significant progress in hiring, retaining, and promoting women lawyers and lawyers of color.  Wal-Mart’s Legal Department has also required the law firms that serve Wal-Mart to be held accountable for promoting diversity in their own organizations. In the past year, the National Association of Women Lawyers, the National Bar Association, and other prominent minority bar associations presented awards to Wal-Mart for its leadership in promoting diversity in its Legal Department and in its outside law firms.

“What is fascinating and instructive about Wal-Mart’s experience is that by seeking out and hiring women and minority lawyers, the company not only gained the broad cultural lenses that are necessary for effective legal work, it opened itself to enormous pools of legal talent that might otherwise have never been known to the company,” said ABA President Karen J. Mathis.

“Wal-Mart has proven that by striving for diversity, a corporate leader can also be a leader in the professional excellence of its legal staff. And it is for that reason that we recognize Wal-Mart with the Spirit of Excellence Award,” said Kay Hodge, chair of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity.

The company’s U.S. Legal Department includes more than 150 lawyers. Nearly one third of those are lawyers of color, and more than 40 percent of the lawyers are women. The diversity of the Legal Department is also evident across the ranks of the leadership team of Division General Counsels and Associate General Counsels. 

Mars is a member of the Leadership Advisory Council of the National Association of Asian Pacific American Bar Association and the National Bar Association Corporate Advisory Panel. He also chairs the ABA’s Minority Counsel Program Steering Committee.

The American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership association in the world. With more than 413,000 members, the ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public.

Within the United States, Wal-Mart employs more than 1.3 million people at more than 4,000 Wal-Mart stores and Sam’s Clubs, serving more than 127 million customers each week. The company employs an additional 500,000 people at more than 2,500 stores and clubs in 13 markets outside the U.S., including Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Argentina and Brazil. In its most recent fiscal year, the company had approximately $344 billion in sales worldwide.

About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam’s Club locations in the United States. The Company also operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. The Company’s securities are listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WMT. More information about Wal-Mart can be found by visiting www.walmartfacts.com

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