Forbes

I’m a cap­i­tal­ist, I like to make money, and I like to cre­ate value. I know eq­uity—in all of its forms—is good for busi­ness.”

Carol tomé | CEO, UPs

- CAROL TOMÉ Game Changer

CRYS­TAL ASHBY:

how does it feel, be­ing in the CEO seat?

CAROL TOMÉ:

Be­tween the pan­demic and so­cial un­rest, it’s def­i­nitely an in­ter­est­ing time to step into this role. UPS has ral­lied, and we’re mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. We must con­tinue fight­ing against racism, and fight­ing for eq­uity. We have a long way to go, but i’m su­per ex­cited about all the ef­forts we have un­der­way.

CA:

how do you think you got this ex­cite­ment about eq­uity?

Ct:

i was born and raised in Jack­son, Wy­oming—a small, all-white, Protes­tant town. We stud­ied the Civil War for UPS can be the com­pany oth­ers look to and say, ‘We can do that, too.‘ That’s mo­ti­va­tional for all of us.” per­haps one day, and never men­tioned slav­ery. Col­lege was the same. But then i moved to At­lanta to work for Home de­pot. A Black woman on our board taught me about eq­uity, es­pe­cially its im­por­tance to busi­ness. i’m a cap­i­tal­ist, i like to make money, and i like to cre­ate value. i know eq­uity—in all of its forms—is good for busi­ness.

CA:

how did that trans­late into lead­ing a team in a pur­pose­ful and au­then­tic way on race-re­lated is­sues?

Ct:

Peo­ple don’t fol­low you un­less you’re au­then­tic. For my first day, i planned a video greet­ing to em­ploy­ees that would lay out a new strat­egy. then ge­orge Floyd was killed. the planned video didn’t speak to how i felt—ashamed, em­bar­rassed, and an­gry. so, i wrote those feel­ings down. i didn’t have it edited, scripted, or re­viewed. that note opened the video. But i wanted to turn anger into ac­tion. ex­ter­nally, we ex­panded long-stand­ing sup­port of Black or­ga­ni­za­tions, like the eLC, and ex­tended sup­port to new ones. We com­mit­ted one mil­lion vol­un­teer hours to Black com­mu­ni­ties. in­ter­nally, we launched a salary re­view, un­con­scious bias train­ing and un­com­fort­able con­ver­sa­tions. We es­tab­lished the eq­uity, Jus­tice & Ac­tion task Force, a cross-func­tional group of uPs lead­ers fo­cused on dis­man­tling sys­temic racism.

CA:

how much of all of this do you think is re­ally rooted in cul­ture, be­yond di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion?

Ct:

it’s all rooted in cul­ture. We’re a val­ues-based com­pany, but some­times our be­hav­iors don’t match our val­ues. Align­ing them is a strate­gic busi­ness im­per­a­tive that re­quires cul­tural trans­for­ma­tion. the com­mit­ment to eq­uity must ex­tend to sup­pli­ers, con­sul­tants, cus­tomers, the com­mu­ni­ties you serve. if our sup­pli­ers and con­sul­tants are not di­verse and don’t want to change, we go some­where else.

CA:

how do you align your in­vestors with that same strate­gic busi­ness im­per­a­tive?

Ct:

On my first earn­ings call in Au­gust, i talked about racial eq­uity and jus­tice re­form. And i called it a strate­gic im­per­a­tive. there’s an­other thing i’m re­ally ex­cited about: sev­eral uPs board mem­bers are re­tir­ing over the next few years. i’m com­mit­ted to re­plac­ing them with di­verse can­di­dates. We will have one of the most di­verse boards in Cor­po­rate Amer­ica when i’m done.

CA:

how do you see mak­ing all your ac­tions sus­tain­able?

Ct:

i’ve sur­rounded my­self with am­bas­sadors who will carry these ef­forts for­ward by mak­ing all uPsers am­bas­sadors. op­ti­mism is a force mul­ti­plier. uPs can be the com­pany oth­ers look to and say, “We can do that, too.” that’s mo­ti­va­tional for all of us.

CA:

I agree. Per­fect end­ing. thank you so much, Carol.

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