Walmart just donated $14 million dollars to various charities as part of its ongoing initiatives centered around racial equity. The company announced the first round of donations, part of a larger pledge of $100 million made in the wake of the death of George Floyd, in a press release on its corporate website.
The money will go to a wide range of initiatives, with $1 million going to reduce the student loan debt of HBCU seniors, $5 million going to heart-healthy programs in communities of color, and $2.7 million going to COVID-19 vaccine awareness and education.
"Walmart has made a commitment to advancing racial equity, finding areas where we, as a company, can best contribute our resources and expertise to change society’s systems that perpetuate racism and discrimination," Kirstie Sims, the senior director of Walmart's Center for Racial Equity, said in the press release.
The company has also pledged to hold its own feet to the fire with regards to its hiring practices. Only about 12% of managers in the company and 7% of its corporate officers are Black. The company hopes to fix this by keeping a closer eye on diversity initiatives, requiring twice annual reports on the corporation's progress.
“Progress sometimes is slow, but with the work and the power and the commitment behind it, we’re going to make change,” Sims added.
As the largest private employer in the United States, Walmart could do more than just about anyone except the U.S. government to improve the material conditions of people of color. Forty-two percent of the company's 1.5 million employees are people of color. The Walton family, who own the Walmart brand, collectively hold more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans combined. In the last three months, the company cleared $5.3 billion in profits while their average full-time employee makes less than $25,000 per year. The $14 million they donated to kick off this initiative is two-tenths of a percent of their operating income in the last fiscal quarter.