Workers across the Midwest walked off their jobs at John Deere recently, echoing the frustrations of workers at Kellogg the month before. After years of relatively low strike activity, a spike in 2018 and 2019 followed by a disruptive global pandemic may be shifting the power dynamic between employees and owners, who often view their people as inputs, the same as they view materials, buildings, or equipment.
This mindset creates unnecessary risks, not just the risk of strikes but the risk of unsafe working conditions, high turnover, lawsuits, and low productivity. And it is why companies that take diversity, equity, and inclusion seriously are already a better investment and will continue to outperform their peers in the future.
Many companies started thinking about DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) in the wake of George Floyd’s death, particularly as employees started asking how their employers would respond to the problem of structural racism and the call for social justice.
Certified B Corporations like AMS Fulfillment have this commitment baked in, and it is a significant factor in our success. We focus on DEI to create a safe environment for our employees which in turn makes us a more attractive employer than some of our competitors. We use our DEI values to make sure managers follow the rules and to coach all of our employees on how to resolve conflict and improve communication. As a result, we perform better and improve our margin.
But like any employer, we know we have blind spots. Recently we engaged Diversity Works, which used a rigorous data-driven approach to evaluate our DEI performance. We approached the effort like an individual would take up exercise and eating well – we wanted to set an intention to do better because we knew we’d come out the other side stronger and more resilient.
The results confirmed some things that we already knew, and it identified opportunities for us to hardwire the changes we had made to ensure they last. Most importantly, the recommendations were tailored to our business and aligned to our values – our people are more than inputs, they are integral to our success and future performance.
When we were acquired by a private equity firm a few years ago, it was these values that made us an attractive investment. Thirteen investor teams made us an offer. In the end, we selected an investor who didn’t offer us the most money but the one that agreed to sign the B Corporation agreement and saw our DEI commitments as a competitive advantage.
There are rewards for doing well by your people and considering your employees’ success as your own success. As the former CEO and now, in semi-retirement, Chief Workforce Development Officer of AMS Fulfillment, I see our B Corporation certification and our DEI strategy as part of my legacy.
We’ve created opportunities for people who often have very few, such as individuals who have been involved in the justice system. We’ve worked with our customers to support organizations that help vulnerable mothers provide for their kids and that help people with disabilities find work. And we celebrate every time one of our employees advances their career because of the leadership training that we provide. We do all of this while also giving our investors a good return.
It remains to be seen if striking employees in the Midwest or even right here in Los Angeles with the film and television workers are able to shift the balance of power in their favor. But it doesn’t have to be an adversarial relationship. In our experience, you can value and invest in your employees while also being profitable and competitive. We can do better and protect the bottom line.
By: Ken Wiseman, Chief Workforce Development Officer, AMS Fulfillment
Follow this link to read the above article at hometownstation.com.
“Change starts with a culture of respect, acceptance, encouragement and progresses on the basis of providing opportunity and education while instilling confidence and trust,” said Ken Wiseman.
Wiseman is a well-known figure in the SCV community, appreciated for developing the workforce at AMS Fulfillment, and for his extensive volunteering while guiding AMS as its CEO. Wiseman has served on a number of boards including Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation, 10-year SCV Sheriff’s Foundation, former Chair of the SCV Mayor’s Committee for the Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, member of the College of the Canyons Business Alliance and current President of the Piru Neighborhood Council. He also served until recently as an 18-year volunteer with the SCV Sheriff’s Search & Rescue Team.
In 2019, Wiseman made the decision to go into semi-retirement and serve AMS as Chief Workforce Development Officer. Among his many achievements are the establishment of an employee learning center, and the creation of opportunities for persons struggling to enter and achieve success in the workforce. Wiseman continues to focus on training and creating a diverse, equitable and nurturing work environment.