Who says women can’t get ahead at Wal-Mart? The retail giant recently promoted Nancy Stewart to SVP and CTO, reporting to another woman in power, Linda Dillman, the CIO. I certainly don’t mean to downplay the plaintiffs’ allegations in the sex discrimination suit against Wal-Mart. Discrimination of any kind can not and should not be tolerated. But it is nice to see two women in very high level positions, especially in IT, at a $285 billion company, at a time when fewer and fewer female college graduates are making careers out of computer science. However, the cynic in me can’t help but think Wal-Mart appointed Stewart to make a PR statement and as ammunition in its effort to defend itself against the class action lawsuit that several current and former female Wal-Mart employees have brought upon the company. (One might even perceive Wal-Mart’s promotion of Stewart as a victory for those women who dared to challenge the business practices at what is arguably one of the most powerful companies in the world.) I realize my cynical attitude doesn’t take into consideration Stewart’s experience, which is touched upon in the news release Wal-Mart issued yesterday. Ms. Stewart, I don’t mean to insult you in any way. Stewart most recently served as vice president of large systems and infrastructure. She succeeds Matt Carey in the CTO post. Carey is joining eBay as its SVP and CTO.
Anyway, I’m sure I’ll hear from Wal-Mart about this post. Or maybe the company won’t bother with someone it perceives as insignificant.