Wal-Mart Welcomes Its First Black Woman CEO

January 20, 2012  |  

On Friday Reuters reports that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has named Rosalind Brewer president and chief executive of Sam’s Club warehouse retail chain. This marks a historic time for both women and the black community in the corporate space. It is the first time that Wal-Mart, one of the world’s largest retailers, will have a woman and an African American heading one of its three business entities.

Friday was a successful day for two other women employees at Wal-Mart. Gisel Ruiz became the US chief operating officer and Karenann Terrell became Wal-Mart’s chief information officer. These promotions support its case that women are treated equally at the large corporation. Last year the US Supreme Court ruled against a class-action lawsuit brought on by women who claimed that female employees were subject to discrimination in receiving raises and promotions from the company.

Brewer graduated from Spelman College in 1984. She joined Wal-Mart as a regional vice president in 2006. Most recently Brewer headed Wal-Mart’s US East Coast operations. In this role she oversaw over $100 million in revenue each year and was responsible for more than 500,000 employees and nearly 1,600 stores. Sam’s Club is smaller than the Wal-Mart division Brewer previously supervised. It has 610 stores and last year brought in $49 billion in fiscal sales.

Brewer received the position shortly after her predecessor, Brian Cornell, decided he and his wife wanted to move back to the Northeast to be closer to their children. Brewer will begin her new position in Wal-Mart’s Bentonville, Arkansas base on February 1.

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