Wal-Mart Starts New Diversity Office, Names Director

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the world's biggest retailer, is opening a diversity office to help ensure all its workers have an opportunity to advance, according to an Associated Press report.

The move, disclosed Tuesday by Wal-Mart, comes as the company defends itself in a variety of employment-related court actions in which plaintiffs claim the company exerted a bias against women and didn't pay overtime that employees worked.

The company also has acknowledged it is the target of a federal grand jury probe into whether illegal immigrants worked for contractors hired to clean Wal-Mart's stores.

Charlyn Jarrells Porter, an 11-year Wal-Mart employee first as a lawyer and later in its human resources department, was named to lead the new office. She said Tuesday the extra effort to better promote across racial and gender lines isn't related to litigation.

According to Porter, the office will coordinate programs to increase pools of qualified candidates, measure progress within the system, and hold managers accountable.

To ensure the diversity message reaches such a tremendous group, Porter said diversity will draw greater emphasis in company meetings, and the company will use its video training to further drive home the message.

Porter will report to Wal-Mart's No. 2 executive, Tom Coughlin.
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