Ken Wiseman: What DE&I Looks Like in Practice

November 22, 2021

Nowadays we hear about corporations and businesses following Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) principles. While we understand what diversity means, and equity and inclusion, we might not have a good understanding of what DE&I looks like in practice and how these principles might affect decision making within a corporation.

Recently the organization Diversity Works conducted an interview with Ken Wiseman, Chief Workforce Development Officer for AMS Fulfillment. AMS is a bi-coastal fulfillment company that is recognized for its DE&I efforts over the years. The company employs around 600 individuals, so the workforce is quite large. AMS is also a B Corporation as well as a Social Enterprise, with Ken being the driving force behind the efforts to serve the community through its hiring practices and empower and protect the wellbeing of the workforce.

There is a video of the interview available, which we will include below, but we also would like to offer a story that we feel is an excellent example of what DE&I looks like in practice.

During the interview, Ken told the story of some decisions AMS had to make when the COVID pandemic shut down some of the businesses for which AMS was providing fulfillment. AMS found itself in the position of having to downsize the staff by 35%, and the question was, “How can we do this fairly and equitably.” While another company might have made the decisions based on tenure or on keeping the ‘best workers’, AMS took a different path.

The company created a survey for the employees, recognizing that some employees would want to be home to care for children, or due to health concerns they need to be home. By choosing this first option the employees could temporarily be laid off. The survey also offered the option of willingness to be unemployed, and absolutely want and need to stay employed.

AMS was able to downsize the workforce with just the employees who had indicated the first option – I want or need to be at home during this crisis. And the beautiful outcome was that with the stimulus dollars in people’s pockets the economy improved and AMS was able to bring back all of the employees.

This is but one inspiring example of what DE&I looks like in practice. We encourage readers to listen to the full interview HERE.