How Walmart’s Chief Diversity Officer Gets Talent-Development Results

DiversityInc, August 1, 2012

Walmart’s Global Chief Diversity Officer Sharon Orlopp believes that to truly advance your diversity awareness, you need to walk in someone else’s shoes. It’s the philosophy that’s helping her drive diversity management to the next level—beyond good-faith efforts.

Sharon Orlopp

This includes a hands-on diversity immersion course for Walmart and Sam’s Club managers, which gives associates a firsthand tour of civil-rights and other historical venues for diversity and inclusion, such as trips to Martin Luther King Jr.’s house in Montgomery, Ala., and to see the effects of border-patrol regulations on Latinos in San Antonio.

Orlopp discusses the importance of diversity immersion during this interview with DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti, as well as her current responsibilities to improve global diversity and inclusion for all employees and Walmart’s plans for increasing accountability for its diversity goals.

Luke Visconti: You’ve been chief diversity officer for a little over a year, with a team of 14 people. What do you track on the diversity part?

Sharon Orlopp: We report once a quarter to the compensation, nominating and governance committee of the board. We track against our diversity-goals program. We look at the applicant pool compared with placements for our field for Walmart and Sam’s Club for quite a few goal positions. We look at representation. Then we look at our good-faith efforts and our mentoring programs.


Visconti: Since you are just starting, to what degree will you be tracking accountability for accomplishing these goals? Where would that reside?

Orlopp: One of the discussions we want to have is whether there should be both a carrot and a stick. We’ve had just the stick for the last eight years. We want to look at that piece and figure out what pieces are individual versus which are group-unit goals. I think you could do it both ways: have an overall goal and then an individual goal.

Visconti: What kind of stick have you been using in the past, and where do you think you are going to go with the carrot?

Orlopp: In the past, there were two components: the good-faith effort, which includes mentoring to associates and also attending diversity events, and the other component for our field organization, applicant pool versus placements.

We look at the end of each year whether there has been any disciplinary action around inappropriate comments, language, behavior in the workplace. If someone has met their good-faith efforts and attended their diversity events and mentored associates, done all that’s required of them, but their behaviors haven’t demonstrated it, they get marked that development is needed in that area. They can’t pass that performance-evaluation section.

The performance-evaluation accountability is 10 percent. The bonus accountability is up to 15 percent. If people fail to meet their goals on that, then we do both a quantitative review and qualitative review. 


Visconti: What has this discipline resulted in over the years?

Orlopp: We made a lot of progress in talent development in our Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs. Some examples: When you look at our management-trainee program over the past five years, we’ve put about 12,000 women through that program. It’s entry-level management. Eighty-five-hundred people from traditionally underrepresented groups have gone through a management-trainee program over the last five years.

Walmart has more than 3,000 stores in the United States. Our percentage of female store managers has grown 39 percent in five years. Our percentage of people-of-color store managers has grown 31 percent. Our female assistant managers [percentage] is 47 percent. Those are huge increases on a huge base.

It’s a combination of very strong, strategic recruiting efforts, but a lot of internal development. We’re seeing people being pulled through the talent pipeline. 


Diversity Training Through Experiential Learning 

Orlopp: I came here nine years ago. I was head of HR for Sam’s Club and Doug McMillon was the CEO of Sam’s Club. I kept thinking about how I could teach adults about diversity and inclusion. I kept going back to my childhood: My parents immersed me in the situation.

I kept asking how I could give them these “aha” moments or how I can teach them from my heart so that it changes behaviors. I came up with what I call diversity-immersion trips.

Our signature trip was to Montgomery, Ala., for two days. We took the CEO of Sam’s Club, all his leadership team, about 20 to 25 associates, a very diverse group [in position] as well as ethnic, gender and background. We started with the Rosa Parks Museum. We went to the Martin Luther King church, his home where he lived. We went to the Interpretive Center where the voting-rights march was done. Everyone on this trip was incredibly moved. Our CEO came back and said he wanted to put every single Sam’s Club manager through it.

We host two annual large manager meetings, and he said to see if we can do it in Montgomery and let’s go to all the venues.

When we had gone on this tour, we met a young man. He had been 15 in the voting-rights march with his 16-year-old brother. Their parents were sharecroppers. When they returned from the march, they got kicked off the land. The family of five lived in a tent for two and a half years. (At this Interpretive Center, there’s a big plot of land where a lot of families lived in tents since 1965.)

This man came to speak for us at Sam’s Club in Montgomery. We turned the stage into a tent and he showed photos from when his family lived in a tent.

We brought in Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. We did a 90-minute training session about what this trip had been like. Later, we showed that same training program in the home office and broadcasted it to clubs and stores. About 6,000 people went through it.

Every six months we held a different diversity-immersion trip. The next one was on Latino culture. We went to San Antonio and then we went to McAllen, Texas. We worked with the border patrol and they took us to the wall that was being built between Mexico and the United States. Because of labor cost, the wall is being built by people of Mexico to keep people in Mexico out of the United States.


Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • This diversity promotion stuff is profoundly offensive.

    Inviting (no demanding) that you support and celebrate your dispossession.

    AS contemptible as these people are, I think they will be destroyed faster by ridicule and derision than by argument or rhetoric.

    So spread your derision please.

    • Like the movie Counterfeiters where the jews worked for the Germans to make counterfeit money to finance the German war machine. At least they didn’t do it willingly with an idiotic smile like this lady. I guess she doesn’t care that her kids or grandkids will never find a job new in the new multicultural America. Then again I doubt this self-hating marionette has any kids.

  • Irony Alert:  The corporation best known for homogenizing the American economy and all the local economies of places it plants stores, and best known for almost uniform store layout, now loves “diversity” all of a sudden.

  • Biff_Maliboo

     How interesting.

    A typical quick hit ‘n run to my local Wally World exposes me to enough diversity for a month or more.

  • Larry Klein

    “Because of labor cost, the wall is being built by people of Mexico to keep people in Mexico out of the United States.”

    On a side note I actually got a chuckle out that one. Theatre of the Absurd.

    Pretty much every big, publically traded  company has nauseating programs like this. Fortunately (depending how you look at it), these companies by and large don’t believe the nonsense, but they’ve been pretty much beaten into submission and have to accomodate it. Not to mention Wal-Mart has a lot of black and hispanic customers, so in a way this is sort of a marketing exercise in that they’re immersing themselves in the victimhood of their consumer base.

  • MekongDelta69

    Maybe a trip to Martin Loofer King Boulevard, Che Guevara Way, Lesbian Lane or Feminazi Freeway might help the straight, melanin-deprived male employees at Walmart to get rid of their ‘impure’ thoughts.

  • MekongDelta69

    Once in a blue moon, you’ll see a brainwashed, indoctrinated white female in that shakedown spot, just to show that they don’t ‘discriminate.’
    Not to worry though – the next CDO lunatic will be a black female lesbian – with a buzz haircut and super arrogant. They’ll drag her over from any college. She’ll also make more in a year than you and I will make in a lifetime.

  • How is that Detroit Wal Mart working out Ms. Otterpop? (sarcasm)

    “Because of labor cost, the wall is being built by people of Mexico to keep people in Mexico out of the United States.”

    No wonder so many mexicans are getting in!

  • …I guess a trip to Rosa Parks’ house or a presentation on how MLK was so-much-more than just a plagiarizing communist really does help White folks understand the rabble of idiots they’re being forced to work with…

  • crystal evans

    You notice that they did not take a trip to Chinatown. I guess Asian Americans do not count as a minority to Walmart.

    • Xanthippe2

      Since pharmacists are considered “management” are are among the higher paid employees, they can generally fill the Asian quota without too much effort.

  • Mahound

    Does this officer promote diversity of opinion too?

  • anarchyst

    This was one reason why giving women the vote was resisted with so much fervor.  It is fact that many women (still) are easily swayed when a black man states “you won’t go out with me beause I’m black”.  One thing leads to another and the creation of a mudshark ensues as well as half-breed lw-intelligence offspring.  The only solution is to “shame” all white women that succumb to the (false) charms of a black man.  White women must be told in the harshest terms that “once you go black, we don’t want you back” and then make it stick.

  • All of this effort just makes you wonder. If diversity is such a wonderful thing, why do we spend billions of useless dollars on endless programs trying to convince everyone of something that should just be so obvious.  We don’t need programs to teach us how wonderful ice cream, steak, pizza. or beer is, we find out for ourselves and choose what we like.  Apparently people choose to associate with those whom they find agreeable and likeable.  But then again, common sense is completely ignored by the liberal elite and they will keeppreachin gthe same agenda driven bovine scat..

  • Hey now, she’s not white.  She looks like she’s exactly from the same Native American tribe as Elizabeth Warren.

  • I am going to guess lesbian ….. but I could be wrong.

  • Skipper

    Another confirmation that the left has taken over most of the major corporations in America.   The U.S. military is now also dominated by political correctness and diversity madness.  Where else to go?

  • whiteyyyyy

    At every stage of  “Diversity” theres a white person pulling the strings. Usually for personal gain dressed up as altruism.  U can blame minorities and jews but if  u dont start exposing or hurting whites who play this game it keeps getting played. I think it would be a real shortcut if Whites start turning on other whites who sell them out, instead of trying to talk them around.  

  • The Worlds Scapegoat

    Maybe they should go to a black neighborhood at night where they can experience rape and murder first hand.


  • Collaborators are well rewarded.

  • SarahConnor

    “This includes a hands-on diversity immersion course for Walmart and Sam’s Club managers, which gives associates a firsthand tour of civil-rights and other historical venues for diversity and inclusion, such as trips to Martin Luther King Jr.’s house in Montgomery, Ala., and to see the effects of border-patrol regulations on Latinos in San Antonio.”
    Holy hell I would never make it as a Global Diversity Management team member. Just typing the title made my skin crawl. Just one of the many reasons I have never shopped at Walmart! 

  • anmpr1

    I can’t imagine any job more depressing, or more disgusting for a White person than that of “diversity officer” at Wal Mart.  One would think that she is merely cynical, and simply selling out for a paycheck.  On the other hand, maybe she actually believes the propaganda.  What has gotten into White women?

    • The__Bobster

      In her case, definitely not a White man.

  • Eurobeing

    I bet this chick lives in a gated community and drives and Escalade. She should take a tour of Detroit or New Orleans then go to South Africa and ask the white polpulation how they feel about diversity.

    They love to dress this crap up as being altruistic just remember they don’t usually pay women and blacks as much as they would a white male manager. This is a big cost cutting move for Wal Mart. They increase the size of the work pool and they lower cost and standards.

    Simple supply and demand.

  • david

    The quality of many, certainly not all, but many of Wal-Mart Corp. employees is low. Turnover is high.
    Believe me they will hire almost anyone. And they have to pool the minority population for employees to keep up staffing.

  • Enar_Larsson

    —In other words, they must somehow convince thier superiors that they have truly joined the multiculti cult—

    That’s an interesting point. There are apparently employees who have not been disciplined for inappropriate comments, have been good mentors to associates, have attended all the events, but still somehow don’t demonstrate diverse behavior. Maybe you have to post pictures of yourself on FB hanging out with minorities, or show a receipt of a donation to La Raza. Pretty disturbing.

  • The__Bobster

    The usual suspects.

  • Seek

    Orlopp sounds like a Dutch name and she looks Dutch.  This was once a proud, tough ethnic group.  What happened? 

  • SLCain

    I hope that this rotten, corrupt harpy, Sharon Orlopp, gets hounded out of her job and loses it to a person of diversity.

    I have only ever set foot in a Walmart a few times – the last time was eight years ago.  I would never buy anything at Walmart ever again.  They are an enemy of white people and of traditional America.

  • Interesting…   the “Chief Diversity Officer” at most places these days is a black person.