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Walmart to Give $14.3 Million in Grants to Address Systemic Racism

In June, while the firestorm of protests sparked by the extra-judicial police killing of George Floyd was burning across the United States, Walmart was one of many companies who spoke out against the general weight of racism that still holds this country down. In an interview with CNBC at the time, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the company would look for ways they could use their resources to address racial inequality, including a promise that Walmart would invest $100 million in the cause of racial justice.

Walmart is the largest employer in the United States and by a large margin, with an estimated 1.5 million employees in the States (and 700,000 more worldwide). They’re also a major employer of black Americans, who make up more than one-fifth of their workforce. According to their own reporting, however, that percentage decreases significantly in higher positions – about 12 percent of management positions are filled by back employees, and fewer than 7 percent of company officers, the highest tier. According to Kirstie Sims, leader of Walmart’s Center for Racial Equality, the company is making tangible efforts within their own walls to improve those numbers.

McMillon had no details on that $100 million pledge in June, and they’ve been sparse in the months since, but on Monday, February 1, the Walmart Foundation announced that they would be disbursing $14.3 million to 16 nonprofits around the country, in the form of grants. Those grants are being given to groups who are addressing race and class inequality in a variety of ways, including health education for communities of color, debt relief for students at historically black colleges, and improving internet and technology access to children who are still attending school remotely.

“Progress sometimes is slow, but with the work and the power and the commitment behind it, we’re going to make change,” said Sims, who originally went to work herself at Walmart to pay off student debt, over twenty years ago.

Source: CNBC

Editorial credit: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

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Walmart Accused of Using Charities to Buy Support

Community groups and organizers have accused Walmart of using charitable donations to try and buy support for the company. They claim that the Walmart Foundation has been increasing the value of their donations in areas in which they wish to build stores, and targeting charitable organizations that will improve public perception of the company and which won’t call them out for their actions.

The Walmart Foundation denies this, and the IRS has not decided to investigate them yet, but the evidence of some potentially shady dealings has been mounting. For example, back in 2008 to 2009, the Foundation donated about $200,000 to charities in Los Angeles. In 2011, as Walmart was trying to open a store there, their donations jumped up to about $1.3 million. Then, by 2013, after the store was built, they dropped back down to a mere $230,000.

It’s not just Los Angeles either. Walmart seems to be trying to buy its way into New York City as well, by ratcheting up donations to charitable organizations there. In 2009 the Foundation donated $90,000 to NYC charities, which jumped up to $1.5 million in 2010, then $6.5 million in 2011. Through this increase, it was widely known that Walmart wanted to open a store in the city, which was met with increasing resistance. More resistance, more donations. By 2012 the company had abandoned their plans for NYC, and the Foundations donations dropped to $1.5 million.

It certainly seems like Walmart is donating more money in places where they want to open stores, which isn’t what charities are for. And if it turns out that this is exactly what they’re doing, they could face trouble with the IRS. The IRS hasn’t gotten involved yet, as investigations are a big deal and require significant evidence, but if the Walmart Foundation keeps this up, the IRS might not have a choice but to investigate.