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Walmart Finds Pandemic Workforce Gap for Women

Women account for around 54% of Walmart's U.S. workforce but made up only 49.8% of new hires the first half of the year
Walmart associate
Photograph courtesy of Walmart

A dip in the number of women employed at Walmart in 2021 and a gap between the shares of Black employees promoted from hourly-to-hourly roles and those promoted from hourly-to-management roles point to areas of workforce opportunity for Walmart, the company's recently released midyear report on Culture, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion suggests.

While women account for 53.8% of Walmart employees in the U.S.—including approximately 54% of hourly workers, 44% of managers and 34% of officers—they made up only 49.8% of new hires in the first half of the year, Walmart noted. In addition, Walmart saw a nearly 1% decline in its employment of women since Jan. 31. 

"We acknowledge women may have been adversely affected by the pandemic and as a result are leaving the workforce," Walmart EVP and Chief People Officer Donna Morris stated in the report. "Throughout society, this period has disproportionately affected women and specifically women of color. While there are many reasons for this phenomenon and it isn’t isolated to Walmart, we’ll continue to take active measures toward the pre-COVID progress of women in the workplace."

Among those measures, she said, will be support for family leaves, predictable scheduling, and "policies and benefits that support flexibility, wellness and inclusive behaviors." Walmart's announcement in July that it will cover 100% of college tuition and books for eligible associates also is an important component of the company's commitment to career development, Morris said. 

In the U.S., people of color accounted for more than 55% of new Walmart hires in the first half of the year, but women of color represented only 28.6% of that total. Further, African American/Black women were promoted from hourly to management roles at a lower rate than women overall: 44% of hourly-to-management promotions in the first half of Walmart's fiscal 2022 went to women, while 18% went to women of color and just 13% went to African American/Black women. (In comparison, African American/Black women accounted for 17% of hourly-to-hourly promotions.) Overall in the U.S., women of color hold 16% of Walmart's managerial roles and 9.3% of officer roles. 

Ben Hasan, SVP and Walmart Inc.'s global chief culture, diversity, equity and inclusion officer, highlighted in a summary of the report that Latinx and Asian representation in Walmart's workforce rose in the first half of the year, and that the share of women in officer roles climbed slightly (1.14%) since the end of January. He noted the company's creation in May of the Accessibility Center of Excellence to increase digital and physical accessibility for Walmart customers and associates. 

See also: Walmart's Donald Fan Talks Building Equity into Talent Career Cycle

"We often fixate on big acts of change—the splash we create when we toss a rock into the pond," Hasan wrote. "But we must recognize that small actions, repeated over time, are equally important." Walmart, he continued, is "doing the work—big and small—focused not only on the splash, but also the ripples and waves that will create everlasting change."

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