On March 24th we watched the conclusion of a very enjoyable event created by the Los Angeles Business Journal. It was the awards ceremony of the newspaper’s weeks-long search for outstanding leadership in “Diversity, Inclusion + Equity.”
Last week we watched AMS’ own Chief Workforce Development Officer Ken Wiseman participate in the Master Class on Diversity, Inclusion + Equity. The panel was moderated by Dr. Lois M. Shelton of CSUN David Nazarian College of Business and Economics. Ken and the three co-panelists were chosen from a field of 89 nominees. They spoke about the strategies, programs and policies they had developed within their companies to implement a diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace. It was a very impressive and informative discussion.
At the final event, we heard from keynote speaker and award winner, Byron Allen, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Entertainment Studios/Allen Media Group. His message was very impactful and inspiring, going into his childhood experiences, choices he made, decisions he was met with and individuals who made a difference in his life. There is a link to a video of the event at the end of this blog, and we recommend watching and enjoying Byron Allen’s presentation.
In the video you will see winners in several categories make brief and inspiring comments. We consider all of the 89 nominees true winners for guiding their companies in a direction that has been a long time coming, correcting past wrongs and prejudices and opening up avenues to equity in the workplace.
Finally, in addition to participating on the Master Class panel, the LA Business Journal published an article written by Ken entitled “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: The Importance of Seeking to Improve.” Here below we offer a few paragraphs and a link to the full article:
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: The Importance of Seeking to Improve
By Ken Wiseman
“The CNN headline said, “Six Dr. Seuss books won’t be published anymore because they portray people in ‘hurtful and wrong’ ways.” Since then, the sales of these books have spiked, the controversy is engaged, and the question arises… are these Dr. Seuss classics truly hurtful?
“While my first reaction to Dr. Seuss books being removed from the shelves was a surprise, a look through one of the books and the running Chinese man, made me wince, and admit to myself, I get it. The Dr. Seuss books were something special to me as I grew up, and like many, we struggle when it comes to change. So much so, that our initial reaction to change is to resist. Looking at the picture of the “Chinaman” running, and using my maturing filters to decipher, the conclusion is yes, this is no longer appropriate.
“And therein lies the challenge. We are creatures of habit. We grew up certain ways, we were exposed to a certain bias in our homes, in our schools, through our friends. We were sheltered from some of the truths of the world, and in other areas we didn’t get the straight story. Never-the-less, it was the story we grew up with. It was our Dr. Seuss world.
“While I have been a proponent for diversity and inclusivity for years, my efforts at AMS Fulfillment have been to focus on the chronically underemployed, individuals with disabilities, individuals who have served time, young people from at-risk communities, and individuals that are facing challenges in their efforts to make a job a career. Our efforts at AMS have been blind to color, but well focused on these groups. The resulting diversity of backgrounds in our organization is rich, with likely 90% of our staff coming from a family of color.
“Our equity discussions have been more focused on many of the biases we see impacting our ability to work effectively as a team. Long-term workers versus the newbie, Spanish speaking versus English, go getters versus the slower pace, family ties versus outsiders, and favoritism that comes from many sources. These were challenges for sure, but overall, our diversity seemed comfortable, and we felt pride in the level of employee engagement that we had in place. The courses we offered seemed like they were making a difference in people’s lives. Promotions were made, survey results looked good, safety has been at an all-time record, it certainly appeared that pride was well earned.”
Ken goes on to talk about the murder of George Floyd and the changes at AMS that came about in response to that tragedy. Readers will find the article on page 17, HERE.
View the Byron Allen speech and awards ceremony HERE.