Community

From Katrina to Flint, Using Our Strengths to Help

The day Hurricane Katrina made landfall, I found myself being pulled into a meeting with one of the early responders: Walmart.

As a Red Cross employee, I had the opportunity to serve as a liaison between the Red Cross and Walmart and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had it set in my mind that the conversation would probably focus on the disaster’s impact on the stores or the impact it was going to have on the bottom line. I could not have been more wrong.

Those in the room had one thing on their minds: helping their associates and their families. They asked questions like, “Is our Walmart family safe? Are we doing what we need to do to make sure they have access to their benefits and paychecks? How can we ensure they keep their jobs?” Seeing this play out in person, I jumped at the chance to join Walmart the following year, and just over 10 years later I’m now helping to lead global disaster response and preparedness initiatives for Walmart and the Walmart Foundation.

I remember it clearly. A fleet of Walmart trucks lined the highway, each filled with the supplies that would eventually stock “pop-up” stores that sprung up throughout New Orleans. Food and water, even hygiene products, were all made readily available to anyone who needed it. The experience of Katrina showed us that we had an incredible opportunity to draw on our strengths – our presence in thousands of communities; our associates’ compassion and expertise; the ability to source life-sustaining products such as food and water; our logistics and operations capabilities; our philanthropy; and our relationships with other community leaders – to help out our neighbors when they needed it most.

Fast forward 10 years and enter Flint, Michigan, Store Manager Beth Harris. Beth was calling about a rising issue that Flint was facing – a water crisis like no other – and she saw a way that we could lend a helping hand. With help from other companies, we set out to help make sure Flint’s kids had constant access to safe drinking water by committing millions of bottles of water to Flint’s school systems. Turns out the rest of the country felt the same way, as Flint schools were overwhelmed by similar donations. So much that they were forced to convert classrooms into makeshift storage rooms.

Given Walmart’s large logistics and warehousing network, we saw a new opportunity for us to assist. Over a period of months, we researched the workable options and found a partner in the state of Michigan to secure nearby storage warehouses and worked out a delivery system to individual schools. This allowed the schools to get kids back in their classrooms and learning. But we didn’t stop there.

Literally millions of plastic bottles were flowing into the community, so without a recycling program in place in Flint, all those bottles would soon convert into waste. So again, we worked with a coalition of partners to ensure all Flint schools had access to a recycling program that will help alleviate the burden of waste and engage a new generation of recyclers.

While the circumstances of every disaster are unique, we are uniquely positioned to meet the evolving needs of the communities impacted. It truly is wonderful that we are able to do so much, but it’s not just Walmart. We have countless partners that play just as an important a role in serving our communities when they need it most.

Ten years ago, I learned about Walmart’s culture. Today, I’m proud to be a part of it.

Learn more about how Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have given back by checking out our recently released 2016 giving report.

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Opportunity

Introducing the All-New WalmartCareers.com

With more than 4,600 locations in the U.S. – and online shopping, too – odds are most of us have connected with Walmart at some point in the last year.

But helping our customers check off grocery lists and wish lists wouldn’t be possible without one important thing: our people.

Delivering on this expectation every day requires a lot of support not just on the front lines at our stores, but also behind the scenes at our fulfillment and distribution centers and corporate offices. Walmart is a place where anyone can build a career, and it’s my role to ensure job seekers know about the opportunities that exist.

One way we’re doing that is through the recently refreshed WalmartCareers.com. But what else is there to know about working for Walmart? Here’s a short list.

1. Expect the unexpected.
Careers at Walmart are as individual as the people who work here. We employ a wide range of roles from store managers and software engineers to pharmacists and pilots.

Our CEO Doug McMillon is well known for working his way up from unloading boxes in a warehouse to where he is today, and he’s just one of many associates who found their dream job among the many opportunities here at Walmart.

2. Counting on success.
Employing more than 2 million associates worldwide – 1.5 million in the U.S. alone – is a huge responsibility. However, the size of our workforce is just one number worth knowing. Here are several other stats that make us proud:

  • More than 75% of our store management teams started as hourly associates.
  • We promoted 200,000 U.S. associates last year to jobs with more responsibility and higher pay, and more than 9,000 hourly associates were promoted to salaried managers.
  • More than 225,000 associates will graduate from our Academies training program by the end of 2017 – emerging prepared to better serve customers, lead teams and take the next step in their careers.

3. Digital first.
With more than 1.6 million visitors each month, WalmartCareers.com is a first impression for many candidates – and we want it to be a great one. The site was recently redesigned to:

  • Invite visitors to experience our culture.

From day-in-the-life videos to real images of our offices and associates, the site opens our doors and invites visitors to experience Walmart like never before.

  • Make it easy for applicants to find their perfect fit.

With so many opportunities available, finding the perfect role can be challenging. We used this as inspiration for the newly designed site navigation, department pages and job search.

  • Showcase our commitment to innovative digital experiences.

We love the unexpected (and the delightful!), and the refreshed careers site is one way we are showcasing our efforts to create great, immersive experiences for our candidates.

4. The future’s so bright.
Through our physical locations and digital capabilities, we’re committed to creating an easy and time-saving shopping experience for our customers. But whether it’s online grocery pickup or changing our in-store setup, we can’t make that happen without bright people to drive innovation and bring ideas to life.

Technology will continue to change the world around us, and associates at all levels are helping us change with it. As I’ve heard our CEO say, “Bring it on.”

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Community

Conquering Small Business Challenges and Obstacles, Ninja Warrior Style

Since the age of 3, Garrett Takach has been a sports fanatic. According to his mother, Marie, Garrett has not only played, but excelled, in almost every sport imaginable.

It came as no surprise to her, then, when he decided to start a small business combining sports and fitness – ninja warrior style. In January 2015 at age 18, Garrett founded Ninja Park Obstacle Fitness Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Ninja Park is an obstacle training facility where anyone of any age with any kind of fitness goal can come in and participate in a unique fitness style called TAK Fit – a technique that combines obstacles, calisthenics, and strength training. Ninja Park offers training, workshops, kid’s camps, team building events, mobile obstacles, a rock climbing wall and a weight training area.

Coming from a big family, Garrett learned first-hand the importance of a strong support system. So to make his dream a reality, he not only wanted a trusted group of individuals around him – he also knew he needed expert advice. In July 2014, Garrett met with SCORE, a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Garrett looked to SCORE to provide feedback on his business plan and discuss the possibility of opening an obstacle gym.

While browsing the SCORE website in January 2016, Garrett noticed the open call for applications for the American Small Business Championship, a national competition sponsored by Sam’s Club that celebrates small business owners and entrepreneurs from across the nation. He didn’t think he stood a chance against 400 other small businesses across the U.S., but decided to enter Ninja Park anyway. This turned out to be a great decision.

Ninja Park was named the Grand Champion in the 2016 American Small Business Championship and awarded $25,000.

The mentorship and resources provided by SCORE and Sam’s Club have helped Garrett grow his business. As a result of the championship, Ninja Park has grown from offering two to three classes daily to nearly eight to ten. Garrett has also expanded the facility to incorporate new and improved flooring, mats, rock climbing walls and obstacle courses. A new business manager, four new full-time employees and two interns have been hired, too.

Garrett is excited about what the future holds for Ninja Park and hopes to become a franchise by continuing to leverage the support provided by SCORE and Sam’s Club.

To learn more, apply or nominate a business for The American Small Business Championship, visit the official website here.Entries are accepted through Feb. 13. Champions will be announced in late March and the grand champions will be revealed in September.

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Life

Iconic Brawny Man Steps Aside for Women’s History Month

What does it mean to be strong? To be resilient? As the makers of Brawny paper towels, it’s our job to make sure the iconic Brawny Man – and the product he represents – embodies these traits.

And that’s why, in honor of Women’s History Month, The Brawny Man is temporarily stepping aside this March to showcase strong women and their impact on history (yesterday and today).

This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s a real change for a brand whose toughness has been represented by a plaid-clad guy for more than 40 years. So we are excited to bring this limited edition packaging design to Walmart customers. Who says a woman can’t take the place of the Brawny Man? Not us.

While simple, the idea that being strong isn’t limited to men was a new way for us to think about Brawny. And in that thinking, we found a connection with consumers that goes way beyond paper towels. As a result, the #StrengthHasNoGender initiative was born last year as an extension of the “Stay Giant” campaign for our paper towels.

This year, we found more inspirational stories to share. From the first African-American female combat pilot to a college student who developed an app that detects breast cancer, strong women are making a difference and breaking barriers in so many different fields. You can view these films on our website, and I encourage you to do so. These achievements inspire us all to reach higher and push further – no matter what barriers we may face. They’re truly inspiring stories, and they get to the core of what our brand is about.

But why these stories? Because we know that women are currently underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Empowering women and girls in STEM seemed like a great way to inspire young women with our campaign. That’s why we partnered with Girls Inc., to encourage girls to participate in hands-on activities, explore, ask questions and solve problems. And because someday we want these same girls to consider a STEM job with a manufacturing company like ours, making Brawny stronger.

#StrengthHasNoGender is part of the evolution in the way we talk about our brand: that strength goes way beyond paper towels. Overall, we hope the campaign and packaging change promotes a conversation about what it means to be strong and resilient. We hope women and girls everywhere are inspired to pursue their dreams no matter what obstacles they face. And finally, we hope that one day, the notion that Strength Has No Gender will be universal – understood and accepted by everyone.

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Opportunity

Why I’m Confident About Being a Catalyst for Change

I am a woman of Walmart. There are more than a million of us across the globe. We're a part of everything this company does.

From producing and stocking your Great Value morning coffee to designing the systems that allow you to order from your couch while finishing a cup with a loved one, we are there.

Celebrating International Women's Day yesterday was the perfect time to reflect on the opportunities I've had here. The list is long and it grows every day. In my six years with this company, my coolest opportunities have been working with our stores and clubs. Because my job is based at Walmart’s home office, having the opportunity to work side-by-side with our people on the front line (more than a million in the U.S. alone!) is enlightening and empowering. And it has certainly helped build my confidence as a female leader. I've met many women of Walmart in various roles from Bentonville, Arkansas, to Shenzhen, China. One thing they've all had in common is confidence. Confidence to represent the No. 1 company in the Fortune 500, confidence to make a difference in people’s lives, confidence to think differently and confidence to challenge the status quo.

We still have diversity and inclusion work ahead of us to ensure every woman at Walmart feels the same way. This week we took another step in that journey, by announcing our commitment to continuing to accelerate diversity, inclusion and gender equality as our CEO Doug McMillon joined Catalyst CEO Champions for Change. This is an important transformational opportunity for Walmart and the more than 40 other companies on board, as not only are they making bold organizational and personal commitments to continue to accelerate inclusion, but they also will transparently report their companies’ collective progress.

So yesterday I added another cool opportunity as a woman of Walmart to my list: The opportunity to help transform our company by making a personal commitment to diversity and inclusion. And I'm feeling pretty confident about the journey ahead.

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