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Closing Keynote: Sharon Orlopp, Walmart Inc.

Posted By Barb Francella, Thursday, March 08, 2012

Closing keynote speaker Sharon Orlopp, global chief diversity officer and senior vice president, corporate people, for Walmart Stores Inc., shared her experiences managing the industry’s largest retail workforce. To cultivate a better understanding and appreciation of many cultures and types of people, Walmart and Sam’s Club leaders go on "diversity immersion trips.” The first was a visit to Montgomery, Ala. and key locations in the civil rights movement. Leaders have also taken Hispanic-immersion trips, a trip focused on women and one centered on the disabled.

"If you touch the heart, you change behaviors,” Orlopp said.

The retail diversity expert said "diversity” has to do with metrics -- being invited to the dance and counting heads. "Inclusion,” though, is what the metrics feel like -- getting out on the dance floor and making heads count.

To further gender diversity and inclusion, Walmart recruits women with backgrounds in science, technology, information and management. "Whenever there’s a reorganization, there’s an opportunity to grow and change your talent pool,” she noted.

To move from talking about D&I to cultivating it, Orlopp advised cpg/retail leaders to evaluate their human resource practices, identify and remove the obstacles to D&I success, measure results and hold people accountable. "Create public champions,” she said. "Be bold!”

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