Jason – Global Leadership Development, PRIDE Co-Chair
When I came to Walmart 22 years ago, I heard about Mr. Sam’s philosophy “If you take care of your people, your people will take care of the customer, and the business will take care of itself.” Our people, business and customers have definitely changed since 1962 when Walmart was founded, but this company is still taking care of its people – all of them – and trying to set an example that others can follow. That’s never been clearer to me than it has been during LGBT Pride Month. I’ve held a leadership role in our associate resource group, Walmart PRIDE, since it was founded 11 years ago. PRIDE stands for Promoting Respect, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity and is an associate resource group for all associates (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight allies) that aims to make Walmart the most diverse, inclusive company it can be. I think it’s working.
Walmart PRIDE spent this month supporting PRIDE activities across the nation, and I documented a few of them for this blog. In 2013, Walmart sponsored eight local events that celebrated LGBT Pride Month. This year, we supported 30 local events, and our support is growing. This year we participated in Denver PrideFest, where 30 local stores and clubs came together to become a major event sponsor and staff the festival family area. 2015 marked our first time in the Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade, where more than 100 associates took part in the celebration and volunteered hundreds of hours. My co-chair Sandy King and I continue to see our involvement in family movie nights, marches and festivals grow. It’s pretty incredible to watch the progress we’re making.
Denver Pride 2015And Walmart PRIDE is not just distributing philanthropic funding. We do the heavy lifting with associates marching, volunteering and organizing these events all across the country. Walmart’s Volunteerism Always Pays means these man hours are being matched with monetary donations by the company.
While these PRIDE events across the country have led to a month like no other, the real highlight came on June 26 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must allow same-sex couples to marry. Suddenly, Promoting Respect, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity meant something to the entire country. The events this month and this announcement made me think of associates who’ve held on during challenges, and those who have held back on being their authentic selves. I think of silent supporters who struggle with being judged for reasons other than quality of work. While it seems people on the front line may fight the hardest and cheer the loudest, the journey to today is a victory for everyone. Support from your nation, company, friends and family is critical to inclusion and equality. Walmart has done this for years.
Our CEO Doug McMillon talks a lot about respect for the individual and how diversity and inclusion benefits us as a company and a community of people. We invest in bringing talented people from various industries to our company. Once you’re here, you should be comfortable being yourself – your whole self – and know that you and your family will be respected. It’s with support like this that groups such as Walmart PRIDE can really help make Walmart a more diverse and inclusive place to work.
Walmart PRIDE may not be in my job description, but it’s become a big part of who I am. I’m proud of what my company, and now my country, is doing to encourage others to respect the rights of LGBT individuals.