DEI Voices: Roberto Lopez - Head of Culture and DEI at Walmart (México and Central America)

March 9, 2023
DEI Voices: Roberto Lopez - Head of Culture and DEI at Walmart (México and Central America) Which DEI metrics do you use to measure diversity and how do you know when your organisation is genuinely diverse?

In our second installment of "DEI Voices", we spoke to Walmart de México y Centroamérica Head of Culture and Diversity & Inclusion, Roberto Lopez Armenta about his DEI journey of more than 12 years. Roberto is very passionate about talent development, diversity, inclusion, and human resources having worked in various organisations including Whirlpool, Honeywell, and now at Walmart (Mexico).

Read the full article on the (4) four pillars in DEI Walmart measures to ensure that their efforts are driving them forward to creating truly diverse spaces for their associates, clients, and suppliers.

Q1. As Head of Culture and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, what initiatives have you implemented at Walmart?

We have included several different initiatives to promote diversity, equity and inclusion [DE&I] at the company that aim to make the workplace a more inclusive and safer environment for all of Walmart de México y Centroamérica’s associates, clients, and suppliers.

DE&I has been an internal journey with a lot of benefits for our associates, but we wanted to do more–we wanted to go further and include external stakeholders. For example, last year as part of our commitment to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, we announced our DE&I Corporate Agreement Initiative, looking to join forces with our strategic partners with the objective of boosting sustainable, holistic corporate practices about diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as safe environments for our community to work in. Over 150 companies in Mexico and Central America have joined this initiative, such as Mattel, PepsiCo, Pozuelo and P&G.

Likewise, we carry out awareness, education, and reinforcement actions such as conferences, webinars and sessions on the themes "Queer Identities", "Mom, Dad: Let's Talk About Sexual Diversity","Question Your Privilege"– among others– in addition to telling stories [and] powerful insights from our LGBT+ community partners to promote the creation of safe, diverse, and inclusive spaces among our associates [through] different webinars and panel discussions.

Q2. What barriers to diversity and inclusion have you noticed in Walmart? How have you overcomed them?

We have overcomed many barriers we have encountered by restructuring things and boosting our commitment to diversity and inclusion; in order to do so, we have created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council for Mexico and Central America. This council is in charge of developing, implementing and leading the initiatives of our diversity and inclusion strategy, aligned with the corporate strategy, as well as leading initiatives for the construction of inclusive spaces and processes and proposing and implementing programs to close the gaps under the four pillars of the strategy.

We know that leadership is a key element, which is why we constantly seek ways to train our leaders in key leadership competencies. In addition, we implement courses and policies to ensure the creation of spaces free of harassment and discrimination. We have been working to eliminate unconscious biases transversally throughout the company to promote and reinforce inclusive spaces.

Q3. Which metrics do you use to measure diversity and how do you know when a company is truly diverse? Please include any real-life examples.

We focus our diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy on four pillars in order to ensure that our efforts are driving us forward to creating truly diverse spaces for our associates and community.

Pillar 1. Gender equality: our commitment is focused on promoting the presence of women in the company, especially in leadership positions. We are convinced that diverse work groups generate better ideas, and at the end of the day, better results.

Our workforce is 54% women, with promotions for women representing 56%; 40% of executive positions are held by female talent, and for the fifth consecutive year, the company was included in the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index.

Pillar 2. Sexual and gender diversity: we are focused on creating a safe workplace for associates in the LGBT+ community. For this reason, we have implemented initiatives to raise awareness and make visible that Walmart is a company where diversity is valued, and that it is a place where you can be one hundred percent you.

In 2022, we participated in the Pride Parades in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Mérida, as well as in virtual pride parades, with the participation of more than 1,200 associates in Mexico and Central America. For the seventh consecutive year, we received the "Best LGBT Places to Work" certification from the Human Rights Campaign.

Pillar 3. Labor inclusion of people with disabilities: we continue to work on initiatives that allow us to offer people with disabilities the opportunity to work and develop professionally in the company.

We have more than 6,000 associates with a disability in the region, 51% more than in 2020. We have implemented different initiatives for them such as inclusive transportation at our distribution centers and sign language courses. In 2022, we received the “Distintivo Éntrale” [an award to companies with inclusive disability policies] awarded by Alianza Éntrale and the Mexican Business Council.

Pillar 4. Nondiscrimination: we work every day to continue building safe spaces free of harassment and discrimination. We started an educational process on racism, its consequences, and the mechanisms to avoid it, aligned with our code of conduct and the Global Policy for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination.

Q4. Tell us about a time when you have taken steps to ensure that everyone felt included.

I had the opportunity to join the DE&I team at the beginning of the pandemic. So, in the middle of the global economic crisis and uncertainty, I made the decision to keep and continue the journey to attract and retain people with disabilities. There were some recommendations and restrictions around the vulnerability of this group, but at the end they also needed a formal job with all the company benefits; we ended up hiring more than 7,000 people with disabilities during the past two years.

Q5. How does DE&I impact you on a personal level? Are there any inspiring stories you can share?

I have a personal commitment and responsibility to leave a heritage, to leave a better world for the next generations, I don’t want anyone to be discriminated [against] or even worse to be murdered for any reason or condition. I´m openly gay and my family embrace it and respect my personal life and they really support my decisions and value me as a person, regardless of my sexual orientation. I have two nieces and one nephew, and they have no issues with me being gay and actually they even love my husband more than me.

Being part of a company in which a diverse culture based on respect is lived every day. This is relevant because thanks to it, I can feel safe to be who I am. Being free doing what I love is what being part of a company like Walmart offers me, and I can also see this reflected in my personal life with my family, friends, my partner, simply being who I am. Our daily work is to normalize that we are all different and that is what enriches us and makes us stronger, both as people and as a company.

Did you enjoy reading the article? Stay tuned to our website, and social media pages for more articles as we continue to speak to fellow DEI practitioners, and advocates from around the globe! #DEIVoices #GlobalInclusionOnlineForum