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Changemakers: How the Nation’s Largest Employer Doubled Down on Employee Well-being to Get Through Crises

May 19, 2021

At a Glance

Walmart’s chief people officer focuses on making big moves to elevate equity, opportunity, and advancement for the company’s 1.5 million U.S. employees

Carey O'Connor
Practices & Centers

As the “Fortune 1” company and largest private employer in the United States, Walmart is in a position to drive massive change for frontline workers with every talent decision it makes. The retailer’s leaders understand and embrace that opportunity, particularly with regard to helping workers face today’s unprecedented realities.

The events of 2020 triggered a seismic shift in consumers’ expectations about the leadership role businesses are in a position to play on critical social issues. The COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matters movement, and the economic, political, and social upheaval driven by those two developments prompted corporate leaders to think and act in ways that prioritized their people. The convergence of crises caused companies to consider how to incorporate the needs of the communities they serve and the workers they employ in their everyday business decisions.

Traditional business leaders who view social issues as unrelated to their business objectives are struggling with changes in consumer and community expectations. But a handful of forward-leaning corporate leaders are showing the “old guard” how it’s done. Donna Morris, executive vice president and chief people officer at Walmart, is one Changemaker who stepped up to lead in the midst of these crises. Under her guidance, the company has focused on the growth, development, and well-being of its workers, and it has doubled down on equity and inclusion.

Walmart is a founding member of JFF’s Recover Stronger initiative, a coalition of companies responding to the pandemic unemployment crisis by investing in the well-being of their people. Through the initiative, Walmart has joined a community of Changemakers placing people and community at the center of recovery strategies.

How exactly is Walmart driving positive change for workers and their communities? Carey O’Connor, a senior strategist at JFF, recently had an opportunity to sit down with Morris to learn more. Read the full interview on Medium.

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