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Our People Make the Difference

Our People Make the Difference

The Original Associates

When Walton’s 5&10 opened, Sam looked close to home for associates. After school and football practice, his sons Rob, John, and Jim would head to work where they’d stock shelves and sweep floors. On Saturdays, his daughter Alice sold popcorn. By the time Walmart opened its doors in 1962, there were 17 stores and hundreds of associates. Though their numbers had grown, Sam’s passion for his associates was as strong as when he was just starting out.

Putting a Practice Into Words

It was easy for Sam to stay focused on people because he didn’t lead from his office. He spent most of his time out and about, visiting the stores. And when Sam visited, his first stop wasn’t the store manager’s office. He started with “the people on the front lines.” He knew those associates were essential to keeping loyal customers, that they treated the customers better than salespeople in other stores, and that “the best ideas usually do come from the folks in the stores.” But it wasn’t just about the front lines, Sam’s passion for his associates extended throughout Walmart.

In this 1987 photo, Sam Walton talks to a Toy Department associate. The phrase “Our People Make the Difference” is on his button, badge, and hat. Sam always wore his “Our People Make the Difference” button as he loved meeting with store associates.



Diversity and inclusion are enduring values embedded in Walmart culture. From the company’s board of directors to
its millions of associates, these values are fundamental to Walmart’s way of doing business. They strengthen company morale, enhance customer service, and provide a positive work environment. But most importantly, they support Walmart’s mission of saving people money so they can live better.

Sam’s Club associates.


Walmart Argentina associates.


Walmart U.S. associates meeting in the Beauty Department.


Juan V. is a truck loader who works in one of Walmart’s Distribution Centers.


Truck driver Warren G. has logged 4 million accident-free miles for Walmart.


A Passion for People

This passion for people defined Walmart’s culture. It’s as true today as it was back in 1962. It’s why about 75% of managers began their Walmart careers as hourly associates. It’s why Walmart hires and promotes from every walk of life. It’s why Walmart has been recognized for its commitment to diversity. And it’s why over 300,000 associates have been with Walmart for 10 years or more.

Why Walmart is Different

Sam said, “Our People Make the Difference.” It was that simple truth that made all the difference in how Walmart grew from that first 5&10 to the global company it is today. Sam reflected one day on the associates that serve Walmart’s customers, “Not every company president,” he said, “is blessed with the kind of people that make up our Wal-Mart World. And that’s why we’re different.”

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Sam was famous for wearing a variety of baseball caps with Walmart mottos. Of them all, this message was his favorite.​

In 1979, Sam Walton introduced Walmart’s motto about its associates. Ron Loveless recalls: “He never took off his ‘Our People Make The Difference’ button, because he truly believed that.”

Handmade handbag created by re-using blue Walmart shopping bags.​

In 2010, Valeda Snyder from store #14 in Lebanon, Missouri, was recognized for being the first associate to serve continuously for 50 years. Valeda started her career in Sam’s Ben Franklin stores in 1960, 2 years before Walmart opened.

Walmart released its first “Family Cookbook” in 2001. It featured 80 delicious recipes from associates across the country.