Walmart CEO says Business Roundtable unveils plans to ‘keep a spotlight on racial equity’

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the nation’s top CEOs want to “keep a spotlight on racial equity and keep the work moving forward,” even as Americans live through the coronavirus pandemic and follow the presidential election.

In an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” the big-box retailer’s leader gave an update on an effort by the Business Roundtable to research and put forward policy solutions to advance racial equity across six systems: employment, finance, education, health care, housing and criminal justice. The group put forward its first wave of recommendations on Thursday.

“If you looked at this from a system view, all of these systems, the education system, the finance system, they end up landing in a community,” McMillon said. “If you think of a place, what are the ingredients that are there that change the outcome so that when someone is born, the ZIP code they’re born in does not dictate their future. That’s how these things need to come together and work.”

McMillon is chairman of the Business Roundtable, a group of leaders from 208 U.S. companies. He announced in June that the group would form a special committee as protestors across the country called for justice and societal changes after the killing of George Floyd while he was in police custody.

Some of the biggest names in the corporate world helped lead the effort, including former AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and General Motors CEO Mary Barra.

At the time, McMillon also pledged that Walmart and the company’s foundation would commit $100 million over five years to create a new center on racial equity and step up its recruitment of people of color.

Among the changes he announced Thursday, he said the CEOs agreed companies should share more data about the makeup of their workforce and boards, examine their hiring and promotion practices and ensure pay equity.

He said the pandemic and recession have underscored the gaps in opportunity among Americans, like children who are on the other side of the digital divide as they try to learn remotely without access to reliable internet or laptops.

McMillon also laid out more details of the Business Roundtable’s recommendations in an op-ed in USA Today and on Business Roundtable’s website. These suggestions include things like having the group reiterate its support of a higher federal minimum wage, setting up a mentorship program for Black and Latino small business owners, encouraging more affordable rental units and urging Congress to provide more federal funing for literacy programs and pre-K.

McMillon added that he wants Walmart to be “a company that looks like America because that’s what we serve.”

“If you look at our board or our executive management, that’s what we want to see in time,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *