Chairman and CEO, UPS
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.”