david ab­ney

Chair­man and CEO, UPS

Forbes - - PROMOTION -

Skip Spriggs: i’m sort of a poster child for skills de­vel­op­ment at uPS, work­ing my way through col­lege there. How did your life ex­pe­ri­ence lead you to be com­mit­ted to di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion?

david ab­ney: I grew up in “sep­a­rate but equal” Mis­sis­sippi, and I didn’t find out un­til a lit­tle later in life that it was def­i­nitely sep­a­rate but there was noth­ing equal about it. My first re­ally in­te­grated en­vi­ron­ment was load­ing and un­load­ing UPS trail­ers. An African-Amer­i­can co-worker there be­came one of my men­tors.

I learned quickly that it takes all types of peo­ple to be suc­cess­ful. We may think lots of things sep­a­rate us, but tak­ing care of cus­tomers unites us.

SS: Why is your per­sonal life les­son im­por­tant to uPS?

da: Di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion is em­bed­ded in our iden­tity, part of our core val­ues just like safety and ser­vice and in­tegrity. When you have 450,000 em­ploy­ees around the world and thou­sands of cus­tomers and sup­pli­ers, we ben­e­fit as a whole from dif­fer­ent lo­cal per­spec­tives and dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences.

SS: in such a huge com­pany, is it dif­fi­cult to en­gage your em­ploy­ees in your vi­sion?

da: This newer gen­er­a­tion is en­gaged. They want to know they’re work­ing for a com­pany that is in­volved in mak­ing the world bet­ter and that will take on so­cial is­sues. They ex­pect di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion.

And we are deeply com­mit­ted in our com­mu­ni­ties through mil­lions of vol­un­teer hours, for ex­am­ple, and a pro­gram we call Road Code, where many of our 100,000 driv­ers train teenagers in safe driving. We have nearly 200 ac­tive Busi­ness Re­source Groups. Our African-Amer­i­can BRG alone has 19 chap­ters, and at least one-third of the mem­bers are oth­ers who share the affin­ity.

I lead our Di­ver­sity and In­clu­sion Steer­ing Coun­cil, where we op­er­ate on a five-year plan with as­pi­ra­tional goals. We mea­sure ev­ery­thing and share progress on a quar­terly ba­sis, and we work hard to make sure no fac­tors other than re­sults, drive and po­ten­tial have an im­pact on eval­u­a­tions, con­sciously or un­con­sciously.

We can­not reap the ben­e­fits of a di­verse work­force with­out do­ing ev­ery­thing in our power to en­sure all UPSers have the op­por­tu­nity to reach their po­ten­tial.

“think about a 12-piece band where ev­ery­body plays the same in­stru­ment. it wouldn’t be nearly as cre­ative and in­no­va­tive as one with ev­ery­body play­ing a dif­fer­ent in­stru­ment.”

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