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Wal-Mart Discusses New Pay Plan at Annual Shareholders Meeting

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced Friday at its annual shareholders meeting that it had launched a series of initiatives to address concerns over its pay structure and opportunities for women and minorities.

Chief Executive H. Lee Scott Jr. said changes would include reducing compensation for managers who fail to achieve diversity goals and a restructuring of hourly workers' job classifications and wages. He emphasized that no employee's pay would be cut under the new program. However, some would be handed raises, he said.

Scott's speech was "part of doing a better job of telling our story," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams told reporters. "These are things we've done over the past year. We feel good about them."

Wal-Mart, which is facing lawsuits alleging gender discrimination and improper pay practices, didn't say how many workers would receive a wage increase or how big it would be. A Wal-Mart spokeswoman would say only that the pay changes, which will take effect June 12, were already built into this year's costs and would not have an effect on earnings.

More than 15,000 people attended Wal-Mart's annual shareholders meeting on Friday in Fayetteville, Ark. Chief Financial Officer Tom Schoewe danced in the aisle, and former CEO David Glass -- flanked by actresses Halle Berry and Susan Lucci -- did the twist to the Wal-Mart cheer.
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