June 11, 2021
By Kirstie Sims, Senior Director, Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity
On June 5, 2020, I sat at my desk and watched as Doug McMillon made a commitment to use Walmart’s scale and resources to address the drivers of systemic racism in society and accelerate change in the national social systems. As a 20-year associate, and a Black woman, it was one of the most exciting moments of my Walmart career. Though he has long been a champion of diversity, it was clear that the murder of George Floyd had impacted and changed him, as it has done for so many.
But it was not just a speech, my company was putting action behind the words – committing to the movement to the point that we were willing to create dedicated teams and invest the time and money behind it to ensure it was successful. Doug set us on a journey of learning how Walmart's business capabilities – along with the $100 million committed through Walmart and the Walmart Foundation for the Center for Racial Equity – could drive long-lasting social change for our Black and African American colleagues, neighbors, customers and communities.
I knew then I had to be a part of this work. Since that day, just over a year ago, we have worked hard to build the framework for the Center for Racial Equity and partner with leaders and associates across the business as they stood up Shared Value Networks: groups of associates dedicated to finding ways to drive systemic change in the areas of finance, health, education and criminal justice. We’ve established partnerships with communities and NGOs who have been invaluable in helping us move closer to the issues and identify solutions that address the real problems, not the perceived ones.
But it’s not just the SVNs and the Center for Racial Equity who have listened, learned and led. Company-wide, there has been an increased and sustained focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and a race equity lens embedded throughout our business.
Today, we came together as a Center team with Walmart business leaders, associates and grantees at our inaugural Center for Racial Equity Milestone Meeting. Our goal was to share our progress in advancing racial equity and to further ignite our shared passion for eradicating systemic racism through the business and our philanthropy. I invite you to watch the event and learn more about these efforts.
While I'm encouraged by the meaningful progress made in just one year, my focus remains on the work that still needs to be done. This is just the beginning. We must continue to learn, grow and innovate with the same focus and fervor we have this year. We must push ourselves faster and further, have tough conversations, work to really understand the complex nature of these systemic issues and find meaningful, real solutions.
There is a long road ahead. But my hope is that the work we do through our business and the Center, in conjunction with others, will serve as a catalyst and that these efforts, along with the work of many others, will get to the root of systemic racism, sustaining over time and making impact for generations to come. We have an opportunity to create a more fair, equitable and just society – but it will take all of us. I hope you’ll join me on this journey.