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Walmart’s Ben Hasan is moving the dial on workplace diversity and inclusion

In a remarkable interview with The HR Digest, Ben Hasan talks about the value of DE&I initiatives in the global business sector and what makes Walmart one of America’s top employers. “We are on a journey,” he says. “Every small step we take in the right direction represents an important step in our journey.” As a prominent HR leader, the SVP Chief Culture Diversity Equity & Inclusion at Walmart has made a tremendous contribution to paving the way to a more inclusive workforce.

The HR Digest: Ben has seen a rally of events during his tenure with Walmart, what experiences inspired him to do better for its strategic evolution?

Ben Hasan: We often fixate on big acts of change – the splash we create when we toss a rock into the pond. But we must recognize that small actions, repeated over time, are equally important. They’re the pebbles that create ripples and waves that transcend beyond a moment in time and create lasting change.  For years we’ve focused on fostering belonging within our walls and society, and we are seeing results. Our sustained commitment simply comes down to doing the work.   

The HR Digest: What DE&I strategies by Ben have helped Walmart add success in the retail industry?

Ben Hasan: While all of our work is important, we remain focused on representation and inclusion for all people.  We continue to see gains across hiring and promotion activity as seen in our recent CDE&I Mid-Year Report.  We’ve achieved incremental gains in representation for People of Color, specifically African Americans. In fact, People of Color represented 55.47% of new hires.  We also achieved representation gains across management. When you look at our promotions from hourly roles to management, 44.61% were women, 38.8% were People of Color and 17.38% were LatinX.

The HR Digest: What major changes under Diversity and Equity stood out well for Walmart during the pandemic? 

Ben Hasan: Last year was pivotal for our country. It forced us to sit in an uncomfortable state of self-examination individually and collectively. In turn, we made conscious decisions to change. To do better. But change doesn’t come easy, does it? Social systems that create inequity have been built over decades, so dismantling and rebuilding for the betterment of all people won’t happen overnight. We are on a journey. Every small step we take in the right direction represents an important step in our journey. 

Walmart launched Shared Value Networks (SVNs) last year to help address the root causes of racial disparity across the social systems of criminal justice, education, finance and health.  The SVNs emphasize the development of strategies and investment of resources to help increase fairness, equity, justice and belonging within social systems. Each SVN continues to execute their strategies and pilot programs consistent with their aspirational goals, and together with the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity are supporting systems change at a national and local community level.

The HR Digest: What’s next for Walmart?

Ben Hasan: We’ve known for some time that women are leaving the workforce at unsettling rates so supporting women in the workplace is critical. We are keeping a close eye on this trend and will continue to support women in the workforce across the board. We have a Women’s Resource Community, an Associate Resource Group, addressing the unique set of challenges faced by women and to provide a system of support and resourcing. 

We also have a global opportunity to advance equity and inclusion for people with disabilities. Walmart has long been committed to supporting people with disabilities, which I believe is evidenced by our score of 100 on the 2021 Disability Equality Index for the sixth consecutive year. In May, we announced the formation of our first Office of Accessibility to continue to push for progress inside and outside our walls. 

The HR Digest: How can you tell if you’ve succeeded in convincing executives to bring more diverse talent on board, or if they are simply paying lip service to the idea?

Ben Hasan: Our collective focus on representation in the workplace is unwavering and we believe in  measurement transparency.  We publish annual and mid-year culture, diversity, equity and inclusion reports along with our annual Environmental, Social & Governance Report. Our latest mid-year report, which was released in September, shows incremental gains across many segments where representation is measured. We’ve also added new insights specific to age representation which suggests that Walmart is a place for those starting their career journey. Our leadership team doesn’t take their responsibility in this regard lightly, and I am proud to partner with them to continue make even more progress.

Anna Verasai
Anna Versai is a Team Writer at The HR Digest; she covers topics related to Recruitment, Workplace Culture, Interview Tips, Employee Benefits, HR News and HR Leadership. She also writes for Technowize, providing her views on the Upcoming Technology, Product Reviews, and the latest apps and softwares.

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