ROGERS, Ark., Jun 29, 2012 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) — More than 500 Network of Executive Women members and industry supporters honored Michael T. Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Inc., as he was inducted into the NEW CPG/Retail Diversity Hall of Fame, June 28, 2012 in Rogers, Ark. NEW is the consumer products and retail industry’s largest diversity organization, with more than 5,000 members in 19 regions in the U.S. and Canada.
Duke received the William J. Grize Diversity Hall of Fame Award, named after the late Ahold USA CEO, an early advocate of industry diversity. The award honors industry leaders who have demonstrated “an enduring commitment to the advancement of women and to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.” He was recognized during a breakfast event hosted by NEW Northwest Arkansas during Women’s Day at the LPGA at the John Q. Hammonds Center.
“This is really for Walmart, for our associates and our customers,” Duke said while accepting the award. “I’m honored in this job every day to serve our customers and associates.”
NEW Past Chair Alison Kenney Paul, vice chairman, U.S retail leader at Deloitte, presented the award. “As president and CEO of Walmart, Mike Duke leads an organization fully committed to both the women in our business and to the Network of Executive Women and its mission,” Paul said.
A NEW foundation sponsor, Walmart’s commitment to women in the Northwest Arkansas area helped the Network establish one of its first regional groups. “Mike is a longtime supporter of NEW, describing it as a ‘national model and a true change agent,'” Paul said.
Under Duke’s leadership, Walmart has advanced women to a number of key positions. In January 2012, Rosalind Brewer, the first chairperson of the Walmart President’s Council of Global Women Leaders, became the first woman and African American to lead one of Walmart’s three business units when she was promoted to chief executive of Sam’s Club. At the same time, Walmart promoted Gisel Ruiz to executive vice president and chief operating officer of its U.S. business and Karenann Terrell to chief information officer.
Last fall, Duke unveiled the Walmart Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, which uses the company’s size and scale to help empower women across its supply chain. Over five years, the company will source $20 billion from women-owned businesses in the United States and double sourcing from women suppliers internationally.
The event also featured a panel discussion with Duke; Paul; Ruiz; and Elane Stock, president of Kimberly-Clark Professional, all of whom shared their diversity-related life and career experiences.
“The discussion around diversity and inclusion is good for business, but is also the right thing to do,” Duke said. Asked for a “best practice” for women in the cpg/retail industry, Stock advised NEW members to “lock arms with other women and colleagues and make each other successful. It will make all the difference in advancing ours and others careers.” She cautioned members against the pitfalls of unconscious bias, calling it “the next frontier” in diversity and inclusion and suggested cpg/retail leaders address unconscious bias “so that we don’t unfairly advantage or disadvantage one group or another.”
Paul advised companies to “connect [employee resource groups] with those of other organizations.” Walmart executive Ruiz shared two tips that have helped her succeed: “Simplify your life at work and home,” she said, “and leverage you strengths at work — don’t try to be someone else at work — be your whole self. Women are naturally good listeners and nurturing; leverage that strength and challenge yourself to how you can best use it in your organization and life.”
The women executives also shared personal stories of feeling excluded or differentiated because of their gender. Their passion for diversity and inclusion, they said, was sparked while purchasing a car, working as a store manager and dealing with customers, and working as a sales person in a traditionally male industry. “When you experience this adversity and feel the passion ignite, ask yourself what you are going to do with it,” Ruiz advised. “Inclusion is not just about color or gender; it’s understanding and appreciating different lifestyles, shopping patterns and needs.”
“We all face moments of adversity,” Duke noted. “It’s what you do coming out of them that matters. Rigid and stern used to a strength. The new management competency is agility — being open and flexible with the way we serve our customers and our associates.”
Walmart CEO Mike Duke accepted the NEW CPG Retail Diversity Hall of Fame Award, the Network of Executive Women’s highest honor, at a June 28 ceremony in Rogers, Ark.
Walmart CEO Mike Duke (center) received the NEW Diversity Hall of Fame Award from Past Network of Executive Women Chair Alison Kenney Paul of Deloitte (left) and current Board Chair, Michelle Gloeckler of Walmart (right). The award recognizes the retailer’s “enduring commitment to the advancement of women and to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.”