International News - Wal-Mart tells execs to focus on diversity

Wal-Mart has revealed plans to cut executives' bonuses if they fail to deliver employment 'diversity goals'.

Unless Wal-Mart promotes more women and minorities in proportion to the number applying for managerial posts, directors stand to lose as much as 7.5 per cent of their bonuses this year, and 15 per cent in 2005.

The store giant is also introducing new pay plans for workers and a seven-class structure for its Supercentres. At present, the average full-time worker earns US$9.64 (£5.25) an hour, and workers have reported pay rises of between eight cents (4p) and US$3 (£1.63).

Wal-Mart's reputation has suffered lately in the face of lawsuits over employment practices and a federal grand jury inquiry into whether the company knew some of its contractors had hired illegal workers.

With the possibility of a class action alleging unequal pay and opportunities for female staff, Wal-Mart's reforms may limit further damage to its reputation.