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Black History and the Value of Diversity

January 1, 1970

AMS Fulfillment has always desired and hired a diverse workforce. We know and experience the value of diversity to ourselves and our community. Like millions of others, we believe that diversity is for human beings to enjoy and grow from; it’s a foundation that encourages creativity.

At the same time we realize that this has not always been the mindset of American business. Today’s emphasis upon diversity has arisen to confront a history of systemic prejudice and discrimination, and correct historical wrongs. We are very pleased to be a part of that correction.

Black History Month is a time dedicated to another historical correction, that of education. Carter G. Woodson, a Black leader in the early 20th century, set the foundation for what would become today’s national holiday. As a scholar with a Masters degree in History from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Harvard, he had witnessed how the story of black people in the US was barely mentioned in history books. He began to promote studying black history as a discipline and celebrating the accomplishments of African Americans.

A very telling quote from Woodson shows us how disrespect for a people’s history ties into other forms of discrimination: “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

Black history is rich with the offerings of great scholars, stories of overcoming every injustice from enslavement to lynching to segregation to redlining; stories of great inventors, great sacrifices, great heroism. These stories are truly American history. Due to the efforts of Woodson and others, change does come – change that today we welcome and embrace.

Looking at the history of employment discrimination we can see that the changes apparent today have been in the works for nearly 80 years. On the eve of World War II, President Roosevelt signed an executive order prohibiting government contractors from engaging in employment discrimination based on race, color or national origin. In 1948 President Truman ordered the desegregation of the armed forces.

In 1954 the Supreme Court decided “Brown vs Board of Education”. Rosa Parks made her brave stand in 1954 and in 1955 President Eisenhower ordered federal troops to protect black students integrating a school in Little Rock. In 1961 President Kennedy signed the order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on account of race. The order included sanctions. He stated his determination to “…end job discrimination once and for all.”

In June 1963, the same year as Dr. King’s March on Washington, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act. In 1964 the U.S. Senate passed the Civil Rights Act. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also creates the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) with the mission of eliminating unlawful employment discrimination.

The EEOC provides more of the history here.

It has now been 56 years since the Civil Rights Act was passed. The umbrella of ‘diversity and inclusion’ has been expanded to include women and minorities in top management, sex and gender discrimination and protection of all racial minorities. AMS has placed strong emphasis on workforce development, diversity and inclusion. As a B Corporation we are pleased to set an example for others in the industry. Director of Human Resources, Carmen Kernek, talks about how AMS views recruitment:

In today’s competitive labor environment, the ability to attract and retain the best talent sets a business apart. If your recruitment model doesn’t include diversity and inclusion as a key piece of the talent acquisition puzzle, it should. Implementing diversity recruitment best practices can make a huge difference in attracting the resources, insights and perspectives you need to drive your business forward.

Traditional recruiting practices can prove challenging as a method for identifying and bringing diverse candidates through the door. Instead, cast your talent acquisition net in places where diverse candidates are. Target the right candidates and subsequently establish the appropriate policies and values that support an inclusive workplace that engages all employees.

AMS works with community organizations in order to facilitate hiring individuals with disabilities, single mothers, homeless persons, individuals who had been incarcerated and others who face employment discrimination. We have benefited greatly from our emphasis on inclusion and diversity.

The real value of having a diverse workforce is that a company will be able to have different minds come together for a common purpose and create. Everyone will bring a different bit of information, everyone will be trying to do things in their own unique fashion, and once everyone finds a way to work together it creates an amazing atmosphere with engaged employees and a company culture that makes employees ambassadors.”