On March 12, 2020, UPS named a new CEO. Top leadership change is newsworthy for any public company; however, a few “NOTs” made the announcement rather noteworthy. It was NOT expected, the new CEO is NOT a UPS employee and the new CEO is NOT a man. While there are plenty of stories out there about the announcement, I bet you can’t find one more unique than mine. Curious?
I’ve been working at 113-year-old UPS for nearly 23 years, mostly at the corporate HQ. I am grateful for the career and economic opportunities I’ve had on my UPS journey. For the last five years I’ve been a self-proclaimed ShowMe50 Ambassador. Both inside and outside UPS I have been working tirelessly to influence more inclusive work cultures where gender biases are lessened, and all employees are on a level playing field for career advancement. Progress has been slow- Show Me 50% women leading already. There are plenty of talented, competent women in all areas, why aren’t there more women in leadership positions? What can we do better?
Though I’ve been collaborative, I have been vocal, and this has made people uncomfortable and made me less popular sometimes. So, when the rumors started circulating in the office that former Home Depot CFO Carol Tome, a woman, would become our CEO, well, I was ecstatic. And when the press release hit the wires at 8:00AM Thursday, I could hardly contain myself. I arrived at 9AM for the 9:30 all-hands employee meeting to ensure I could get a front row seat!
I watched the hour-long fireside style chat with laser focus. Carol’s credentials and achievements are well known (CNBC’s Jim Cramer even recommended buying UPS on this news), but I loved that Carol was also clever, funny, interesting and approachable. Here are some of the things she said which might inspire you too:
- Brown is the new orange (Her Home Depot orange roots will morph.)
- Proud past, bright future (Current CEO David Abney has served UPS for 46 years.)
- We are going to kick some ass (Carol is very competitive. FDX and others- be on notice.)
- I like to win (Did you know Carol was a downhill ski racer?)
- Work with faster, smarter people than you and they will help you soar (Hence diversity and diversity of thought.)
- Culture eats strategy for breakfast (Peter Drucker’s famous words. She gets how important it is to align these.)
- Obligation to community is important (To those which much is given, much is expected.)
- Making a difference in people’s lives is why she comes to work (And works so hard every day.)
- She wasn’t always a servant leader (She shared an experience that changed her – one of her managers quit but the employee didn’t quit the company, “they quit me.”)
- Passion is infectious (She is animated and engaging- inspiring.)
As things wrapped, I raised my hand to ask a question:
Elba: What is the first thing you are going to do as CEO?
Carol: I am going on a listening tour. I’m going all over and listening to UPSers. And the first place is right here in the corporate office.
I’m crossing my fingers I get invited!
Where do ShowMe50 Ambassadors go after they get a win? Like David Abney said, a career is a marathon. We will enthusiastically keep going! Recently Unilever announced it reached its 10-year goal of 50% women in leadership globally ahead of schedule. With Carol’s appointment I believe big change has come to UPS and we too can accelerate our progress to 50%. By breaking down silos and enabling execution of the best ideas through inclusive and diverse leadership, we can grow the business faster. Along the way, I am optimistic and hopeful that Carol will enable employees to achieve their full potential through the four solutions known to level the playing field: (1) Gender bias mitigation integrated into day-to-day interactions, (2) Transparent and objective talent management and performance evaluation systems, (3) Gender neutral workplace flexibility and (4) Executive accountability.
I couldn’t be prouder that UPS has selected a woman to be our next CEO. March 2020 will forever represent a special milestone for me. Jim Casey, UPS founder, believed that determined people working together could achieve anything and this moment reminds me how true that is.
Elba enjoys writing as a private person about various topics. All statements reflect her personal opinions. Elba is the founder of 501(c)(3) ShowMe50.org whose vision is to achieve 50% women in senior leadership positions across America. ShowMe50 teaches men and women to influence change in talent management systems and create more inclusive work cultures through research-based actions. ShowMe50.org provides resources to help employees become catalysts for change, and helps companies implement unique lunch-n-learn programs to scale inclusivity. The ShowMe50 Ambassador program addresses both the motivation to act and the skills to execute. Be part of the solution for creating a level playing field for everyone at work. Follow ShowMe50 on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. ShowMe50 is a Lean In Regional Leader. Create your own ShowMe50 Lean In Circle. Learn how here. Or simply join the Lean In Circle here and show your support for inclusive workplaces. No time? Make a financial contribution to fund programs through the 2020 GoFundMe campaign.