FedEx Increases Representation on the Executive Leadership Council
Most people are familiar with efforts to improve diversity within the corporate workforce. But what about diversity among corporate decision makers? That’s the mission of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), a non-profit organization comprised of current and former black CEOs, senior executives and board members of Fortune 500 companies. The ELC is committed to increasing the number of global black executives for C-Suites, corporate boards and global enterprises.
New ELC members are nominated by existing members, and go through a lengthy application and interview process. Three FedEx senior executives have successfully completed that membership process – FedEx Corporation Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Gina Adams, FedEx Express Senior Vice President of US Operations Matthew Thornton, and Senior Vice President and Chief HR/Diversity Officer of FedEx Express Shannon Brown.
“It’s an honor to be a part of this group of thought leaders whose innovative practices are helping to change the way the world works,” says Brown. “Our global market place is highly diverse and it’s great that the ELC offers leaders the opportunity to network with others who are helping to define how businesses should operate in multicultural environments.”
Matthew Thornton was the first FedEx executive to become an ELC member in the organization’s 29-year history when he was inducted in 2014.
“One of the biggest attractions for me was how the goals of the ELC mirror the goals of FedEx,” says Thornton.
“FedEx has a strong culture of promoting from within, creating a pipeline of leadership, and supporting the development of new leaders at the executive level. Those are all similar goals of the ELC.”
There are three main components to the ELC organization – the council, focused on increasing the number of black senior executives; the ELC Institute, focused on developing a pipeline for global black leaders through mentoring, coaching, networking and leadership training; and the ELC Foundation, which provides scholarships, grants and strategic partnerships to improve the educational outcomes of black students and support professional development of mid-level black professionals.
Gina Adams says the leadership development initiatives of the ELC are especially important. “The work that the Executive Leadership Council is doing to train and promote black leaders is critical to ensuring diverse perspectives at the executive levels of businesses, industries, and governments. “
Adams appreciates the opportunity to build relationships with peers in other corporations. “I hope to benefit from the experience, expertise and access that my fellow members have. Additionally, the networking opportunities are limitless as we also recognize, celebrate and build upon the business-related achievements of black executives.”
Thornton says ELC brings both personal and business benefits. “Not only does ELC membership add value to my own professional development, but the insights, networking opportunities and business relationships add value to FedEx as well.”
Brown, who has successfully mentored several FedEx team members, believes that diversity and inclusion play a key role in aligning the people strategy with the business strategy.
“Throughout my career I’ve tried to do as much mentoring as I can, to help bring the next generation of leaders along. That’s something the ELC is focused on as well, and they bring a lot to the table.”
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