Diversity comments by Sam’s Club CEO spark boycott attempt

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Rosalind G. Brewer is shown with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed during a 2010 news conference to discuss Walmart expansion plans. AJC file photo/Arielle Kass

A number of conservative sites are trying to rally support for a boycott of Sam’s Club two weeks after CEO Rosalind Brewer, a prominent member of Atlanta’s civic and philanthropic community, spoke out nationally about workplace diversity.

Rosalind G. Brewer is shown with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed during a 2010 news conference to discuss Walmart expansion plans. AJC file photo/Arielle Kass

Rosalind G. Brewer is shown with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed during a 2010 news conference to discuss Walmart expansion plans. AJC file photo/Arielle Kass

Gateway Pundit called her remarks “sexist and racist” while Mad World News blasted her as a “raging liberal” after her comments during an interview with CNN recently.

“I demand it of my team,” Brewer said of workplace diversity. “Every now and then you have to nudge your partners. You have to speak up and speak out. And I try to use my platform for that. I try to set an example.”

She shared an incident that troubled her, when she met with representatives from a supplier and they were all white men.

“That was interesting,” she said, adding that she planned to  “place a call” to the supplier to address the matter.

The remarks earned wide praise by many Sam’s customers and a supportive statement from Walmart’s top brass – but also social media posts like this one:

Oprah Winfrey hugs Rosalind D. Brewer, Spelman class of 1984, during Spelman's 2012 Commencement. AJC file photo/Bita Honarvar

Oprah Winfrey hugs Rosalind D. Brewer, Spelman class of 1984, during Spelman’s 2012 Commencement. AJC file photo/Bita Honarvar

Western World Journalism is among the conservative sites either calling for a boycott of the national wholesale chain or declaring that one already exists. Absent are any actual numbers backing up those claims.

Brewer’s comments definitely did resonate on social media, with some posters launching this hashtag:

But many praised Brewer, who serves on the Lockheed Martin board of directors and chairs the board of trustees at her alma mater, Spelman College. She was honored in May at the Women of Style and Substance Fashion Show, benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“Years ago I worked around and for Rosalind Brewer,” posted metro Atlanta resident Tony Brown. “Never in my life have met a more fair and personable leader. She has always championed diversity and inclusion of all backgrounds under her leadership. Ask any of us who ever worked under her. She took the time to know every name. She gave you her best and demanded the same. Sam’s Club as boomed under her leadership for a reason. How dare people twist this!”

Laura Turner Seydel, left, Rosalind G. Brewer and Beatriz R. Perez were honored at the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Green Gala. File photo

Laura Turner Seydel, left, Rosalind G. Brewer and Beatriz R. Perez were honored at the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Green Gala. File photo

And this poster used the trending hashtag launched to criticize Brewer as an opportunity to support her.

In response, Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., issued this statement:

“For years, we’ve asked our suppliers to prioritize the talent and diversity of their sales teams calling on our company. Roz was simply trying to reiterate that we believe diverse and inclusive teams make for a stronger business. That’s all there is to it and I support that important ideal.”