The Value of Allies
“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey
What does it mean to be an ally? For one group at Walmart, it means supporting their fellow man—ahem, woman. For the Walmart Women In Technology Group, an ally is synonymous with support, partnership, advocacy. It’s putting values into action.
Walmart has a long history of supporting the formation of interest groups at their corporate offices. With millions of employees worldwide, it’s not surprising that many find a common ground to gather on.
For the WWIT Ally Group, the goal is to level the playing field in a historically male-dominated field: technology.
David Morales, Senior Director of Cloud Powered Mobile Systems at Walmart, joined the group in 2016. “Diversity, to me, means having lots of different ways of thinking. Women engineers help us solve problems; they help us think better as a whole. There’s a very real value in having more women in technology,” says Morales.
And Morales isn’t alone in seeing this value.
In a study conducted by Cristian Deszö of the University of Maryland and David Ross of Columbia University, they analyzed the effect of gender diversity on the top firms in Standard & Poor’sComposite 1500 list, a group designed to reflect the overall U.S. equity market. What they found was extremely encouraging for groups like Morales’.
When gender diversity is more even, problems not only get solved faster and businesses not only build better products—they are often more profitable.
Deszö and Ross found that, on average, “female representation in top management leads to an increase of $42 million in firm value.”
Todd Trivett, Senior Director of Applications Development at Walmart, has been a member of the WWIT Ally Group for over four years. “I try to build up a base of allies, and then I challenge them to go out and build their own base of allies, so we can grow, pyramid-style,” says Trivett. “Many people come to me and they say, ‘I’m interested; I just don’t know where to start.’ The starting point is saying,‘Hey, I’m here and I’m ready to support women in technology.’ We’re stronger together and we’re all still learning.”
“We have two goals,” states Trivett. “One, bring awareness to the issue. And then, two, be an advocate. Try to understand the problems women in technology are facing. Because when you recognize them, you can stand up and speak up.”
Catherine Garner, Senior Director with @WalmartLabs, a woman in technology and lifelong advocate herself, is a member of the group. Of their last panel discussion, Garner states, “Once we start having conversations, [men] don’t really ask a lot of gender-related questions. What happens is, it transcends. It’s starts being about how there really is no difference between men and women technologists. We’re all just technologists.”
Want to work with Catherine, David, and Todd? Apply here. ▸