Opportunity

In Letter to Associates, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon Announces Higher Pay

Editor’s Note: Earlier today, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon sent this letter and video to our U.S. associates, outlining a new approach to the jobs we offer.

As many of you know, I’m really proud to have been a Walmart associate for a long time. This company has given so many of us opportunities beyond our wildest dreams. We joined Walmart because we wanted a job but found much more than that. This company is a really special place. One of the reasons we’ve had some success is that we’ve known that every person, every voice, every idea has potential. You’ve heard us say things like our secret to success is that we’re all working together and that “our people make the difference.” While that phrase started as a meeting theme in 1979, it became a way of thinking. It’s what we believe. It’s what I believe. Our actions must match our beliefs. So today, we’re announcing a series of important changes that demonstrate our commitment to you, our associates.

After all, we’re all associates. We have different roles at different times in our career and every one of them is important. Today’s cashiers will be tomorrow’s store or club managers. Today’s managers are tomorrow’s vice presidents. Tomorrow’s CEO will almost definitely come from inside our company. During our recent Walmart U.S. year beginning meeting, I asked all of those in the arena, more than 7,000 people, to stand if they started their Walmart career in an hourly role. It felt like almost everyone stood up. It was an emotional moment. It made the word opportunity real.  In fact, our statistics show that about 75% of our U.S. management teams began in an hourly role.

So, how do we make sure that each one of you has the same opportunity, or better, as those that came before?

It starts by making sure we’re setting you up for success. We need great store managers and assistant managers who know what they’re doing, care about you and know how to teach effectively. We need stores with the right tools and environment for you to thrive. I think you feel the same way.  When I’m out in stores today, one thing I hear from associates at all levels is that you want to be freed up and empowered to serve your customers better.  You also want to know that there’s opportunity here and that your hard work will be recognized and rewarded. Our business is pretty simple when we boil it all down; sometimes we make it too complicated.

I’ve seen us change a lot over the years. We’re always trying to do the right thing and build a stronger business. We frequently get it right but sometimes we don’t. When we don’t, we adjust.  In recent years we’ve had tough economic environments, a rapidly growing company, and fundamental shifts in how customers are shopping.  We also made a few changes aimed at productivity and efficiency that undermined the feeling of ownership some of you have for your business.  When we take a step back, it’s clear to me that one of our highest priorities must be to invest more in our people this year.

Today, we’re announcing a package of changes in Walmart U.S. that will kick off a new approach to our jobs.  We’re pursuing comprehensive changes to our hiring, training, compensation, and scheduling programs, as well as to our store structure, and these changes will be sustainable over the long term.  

One of the most immediate changes is that we’ll raise our starting pay, and we’ll provide opportunities for further raises based on performance.  For our current associates, we’ll start by raising our entry wage to at least $9 an hour in April, and, by February of next year, all current associates will earn at least $10 an hour.  I’m also excited about an innovative program we’re launching for future associates that will allow you to join Walmart at $9 an hour or more next year, receive skills-based training for six months, and then be guaranteed at least $10 an hour upon successful completion of that program.  We’re also strengthening our department manager roles and will raise the starting wage for some of these positions to at least $13 an hour this summer and at least $15 an hour early next year.  There will be no better place in retail to learn, grow, and build a career than Walmart.

Sam’s Club is also making some important changes today, specifically to starting wages. Around the world, we operate with the same set of beliefs, and we’ll continue to share what we learn across countries. Every associate matters.  

As important as a starting wage is, what’s even more important is opportunity, and we’ll continue to provide that ladder that any of you can climb.

I’ve seen it.  I’ve lived it.  And I want nothing more than for every Walmart associate today to feel that same connection to the company that I feel and to have the same opportunities I’ve had.  Let’s work together to serve our customers, grow our company, and take care of one another. 

Thanks for all you do.  You really do make the difference.


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Community

Building Hygiene Kits and a Better Future

Shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes – many of us take these basic supplies for granted, but these hygiene items can truly save lives.

In the wake of disasters and crises, where people have often lost everything or fled with just their clothes on their backs, a simple bar of soap can help keep families safe from deadly diseases like cholera.

With the help of our partners, International Medical Corps works to send these essential hygiene kits to countries such as Nigeria, where fighting has forced thousands from their homes in the north, as well as other disaster-prone areas where populations have been displaced.

On June 2, Walmart volunteers attending the company’s annual shareholders meeting came together to assemble hygiene kits for families uprooted by conflict in Nigeria and to prepare for when the next major weather disaster may strike. Along with essentials such as toothpaste, combs and nail clippers, the kits also included solar lights, which provide a safe alternative to fire for visibility during nighttime cooking and studying. These lights also help reduce the risk of violence and sexual assault.

This isn’t the first time International Medical Corps and Walmart have worked together to help disaster-stricken communities across the globe. When Ebola threatened millions across West Africa, the Walmart Foundation was among the first to help, providing swift and flexible support to our emergency response efforts. When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal in April 2015, the Walmart Foundation stepped up once again with a donation that helped us meet immediate needs in some of the most remote villages at the epicenter of the quake.

It was great to see these several hundred volunteers working together. But more than simply showing up, everyone was engaged and wanted to know more about what we were up to and how to give back. The teamwork, energy and enthusiasm were infectious. Everywhere we looked, people were helping others, collaborating, and building hygiene kits for people in need.

Thanks to Walmart, the Walmart Foundation, and the hundreds of associates who came out to pack the family hygiene kits, International Medical Corps will be able to send 1,500 kits to countries affected by disaster and crisis. One thousand kits will be sent to Nigeria, where International Medical Corps is providing health, nutrition, and hygiene services in the remote northern region of the country to families who continue to be displaced by ongoing conflict.

The rest of the kits will be prepositioned and ready to be deployed in the aftermath of the next crisis – wherever and whenever that may be.

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Opportunity

How Honeybees Landed Me a Career in Online Grocery

For a lot of people, there’s nothing like getting lost in a good book. Personally, I’ve always had a thing for maps.

There’s something about being able to see specific locations and everything in between, mapped out across a landscape. Ever since I was a little girl, that’s been my happy place. As the years passed, that fascination led me to Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, where I studied – and mapped – the patterns of migratory birds and foraging dynamics of honeybee colonies.

The one thing I’d never mapped out was the correlation between movements of non-human species and my ability to play an instrumental role in Walmart’s growing online grocery business. But it happened.

In addition to growing a network of honeybee hives and bee enthusiasts in the Bay Area for the past three years, I’ve begun using my doctorate in geographic information systems to help Walmart map its online grocery footprint. Whether it’s bees foraging for nectar, or humans trying to get their groceries, the bottom line is migratory patterns are influenced by geographic spaces. As a geospatial analyst, I plot data on a series of very detailed maps, rather than into spreadsheets. That’s always helped me visualize the whole story – and it’s helping Walmart see the bigger picture today.

I’m studying and plotting the similarities and differences in each of the markets we serve. I’m interested in how topography, density and other factors determine how we can serve customers in each market. I look at geographic trends to help make informed decisions on where we’ve launched the service, and how our presence will impact patterns over time.

The whole process is very scientific – and what’s especially exciting to me is the access to data. While conducting ecological studies on the migratory and foraging patterns of birds, I had to gather every ounce of data on my own. Sometimes, that meant spending an entire year to gather a few specific pieces of information. Here, I have access to a mix of data that’s already there. My job is to put it into a framework and come up with a conclusion. It's unlike anything I’ve been a part of before.

As Walmart continues to expand its online grocery service – and as we experiment with new capabilities – geospatial mapping will continue to play a prominent role. And that’s my happy place.

Editor’s Note: You can read more about Associate Heather Gamper in this recent article, “7 Fortune 500 Jobs That Seem Too Good to Be True.”

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Business

A New Angle on Our Fresh Produce Departments

As a store manager, nothing compares to the thrill of actually seeing or hearing a customer react to a change I’ve worked with a team of associates to bring to life. In fact, since the remodel of our store earlier this year, I’ve purposely spent more time in our fresh produce department, just to watch and listen.

My store was among the first of our remodeled locations to unveil Walmart’s new Fresh Angle approach, which places fresh, unpackaged vegetables front and center. When you walk into our store today, you're intentionally greeted with a farmer’s market vibe. We’ve lowered the profile of our fixtures so customers can see across the entire department. We’ve captured the field-to-store experience, and in a way that’s easier and more enjoyable for customers to navigate. But – while the positive feedback on the visual aspect of the program represents a victory in itself – that barely scratches the surface of what Fresh Angle is all about.

The fact is, “looking” fresh only goes so far. The key is making sure the fresh produce our customers buy in our stores continues to look and taste the same when they pull it out of the fridge three days later. That’s the real driving force behind this new approach, which has been rolled out at 180 stores to date and more than 3,000 by the end of the year.

In addition to improving the sight lines across our produce department, we’ve reconfigured our fixtures to look fuller while holding fewer products. At the same time, we’ve maintained our broad assortment.

Why fewer products? Pressure and time go a long way in determining the freshness of an item. By reducing the depth of our produce fixtures, our avocados are no longer stacked four or five deep. Same goes for tomatoes and so many other popular fresh items. By reducing the depth of our fixtures, we’ve reduced the volume of product we’re holding on the sales floor at any given time. And, given the clock on freshness begins ticking the moment fresh fruit and vegetables are picked, we’re essentially passing increased freshness on to our customers – and working even harder to reduce food waste.

It was eye-opening how a department could look so abundant with less. It’s helping us reduce throwaways and operate more efficiently across the board. We’ve also received positive customer feedback at stores where Fresh Angle has been implemented.

Customers want fresher products so they can enjoy them longer. With Fresh Angle, we’ve developed a vehicle to deliver on those expectations. The impact has been immediate – and it’s growing. It just makes sense.

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Heritage

Remembering Don Soderquist, Retired Walmart COO

Walmart’s culture – defined by our core values of service, respect and excellence – has always been key to our success.

That culture lost a very significant champion this week, as Don Soderquist, a key member of our company’s leadership team until his retirement in 2002, passed away.

Don joined Walmart in 1980 as executive vice president of administration and logistics and was a driving force behind our company’s growth. In fact, he led us through a period of significant progress from 1988 to 1999 when he served as vice chairman and chief operating officer. During his tenure, the company’s revenue increased from $1 billion to more than $200 billion.

Don epitomized the term servant leader. He was always thinking of others, provided great feedback and was encouraging to so many people. He had a deep passion for integrity, and it was Don who drafted our original core values. Don became known as the “Keeper of the Culture” after our founder, Sam Walton, passed away because he not only helped define our values – he lived out our culture and spoke passionately about it year after year. He truly believed that ordinary people could do extraordinary things when they worked together, and he taught the beliefs and values that supported that conviction for the rest of his life. Even after his retirement, he invested his time and energy into many associates who still work for the company.

After retirement, he established The Soderquist Center for Leadership and Ethics in Northwest Arkansas to provide values-focused development training to future generations of leaders. In 2005, he wrote the book “The Walmart Way” to teach others how to apply the lessons that made Walmart successful to their own lives and careers. He was also involved in numerous charitable organizations and served on several corporate boards.

Don touched so many lives here, and he will be dearly missed by his family and all of us at Walmart.

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