A VP at Sam’s Club shares how Walmart is supporting social change.
Earvin Young began his professional life as a jet engine mechanic with the Marine Corps. Eight years later, in 1990, he started at Walmart as what he jokingly calls as a “shopping cart recovery specialist.”
He quickly moved into the management training program, and then worked in store operations for about a decade before transitioning into human resources.
“I've always had a passion for associates, and I have a passion for leadership,” he says.
Earvin moved to Sam’s Club in 2012 to take on the role of Vice President of Sam’s Club Support People. He recently transitioned to a new role at Sam’s Club: Vice President of People Strategy and Portfolio Management.
Shared Value Networks
In addition to his VP role, Earvin is the lead for the Shared Value Network (SVN) focused on Education—one of four SVNs. SVNs were created by Walmart in 2020 to explore ways the company can help advance racial equity for all.
Earvin is focused on improving the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). He is also involved with planning the workforce, looking at the future of hybrid work after the pandemic, and growing HR systems and processes.
“I’m very excited about it,” Earvin shares. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
With SVNs, Walmart aims to use its core strengths—such as creating job opportunities—to make long-lasting change in criminal justice, education, finance and health systems.
“Shared value is all about matching the organization’s experience and society’s challenges. We want to do that in a way that addresses the challenge and helps remove barriers, and then eventually—because of our size and because of what we do—we can benefit society as a whole,” Earvin explains.
Earvin shares one example for how SVNs work in the education realm. Walmart has partnered with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (A&T) State University through the Equity in Education Initiative (E²I).
E²I is a key initiative for the historically black university. It supports undergraduate students in business, engineering, and other professional disciplines.
The partnership gives students and professors access to our company’s expertise and knowledge. Goals include improving students’ academic work, helping them graduate on time with less debt, and preparing students for careers.
On the other side of the equation, Walmart is also focused on creating opportunities for associates. For example, Live Better U gives associates the chance to learn and grow—which helps them advance at Walmart and Sam’s Club. We recently added many HBCUs (including North Carolina A&T) to our Live Better U program.
With programs like Live Better U, associates receive free college education while the company builds a more skilled workforce.
Not Too Different
Earvin’s worked at both Walmart and Sam’s Club, and he believes the businesses have some differences.
“Everyone brings their own sense of pride and I think that’s one of the things that’s pretty cool,” Earvin says. “At Sam’s, we realize we’re part of the Walmart, Inc. family, but we’re Sam’s. And we’re Sam’s for a reason. We enjoy being scrappy and agile and innovative.”
Despite the differences, Earvin has found that people at both companies have more in common than you might think.
“At our core, we share the same values,” he says. “No matter where you work—for Walmart, Sam's International—there's something about being a Walmart associate. Within each of us, we recognize the altruism and the fact that we are working in service of something that is greater than each of us. We're trying to get something done, whether it's for a customer, a member or an associate.”
Learn more about Walmart’s Shared Value Networks.