In July, the Greenwich-headquartered XPO Logistics Inc. announced the appointment of LaQuenta Jacobs to the newly created position of chief diversity officer. Jacobs had joined the company in 2018 as head of human resources for the company’s last-mile business unit, with responsibility for HR and recruiting operations in the United States and Canada. Earlier in her career she was senior human resources manager at Delta Airlines and director of human resources at The Home Depot.
In her new position, Jacobs reports directly to CEO and Chairman Bradley Jacobs, who praised her elevation to the C-suite position.
“I’m delighted that our first chief diversity officer is such a qualified candidate from within our own organization,” Jacobs said in a statement. “LaQuenta is a unique talent – she cares deeply about the human aspects of diversity, and also knows how to advance cultural development within a public company of XPO’s size, with almost 100,000 employees. I look forward to working with LaQuenta in her new role.”
In this edition of Suite Talk, Business Journal Senior Enterprise Editor Phil Hall interviews Jacobs on her new role and the role of diversity and inclusivity in today’s workplace.
The first question might be a bit of a broad question: What exactly does a chief diversity officer do?
“In the world of the chief diversity officer, I am responsible for helping drive the culture of the organization from an employee engagement perspective. The whole focus is on diversity, inclusion and belonging – specifically, the growth of internal talent, the acquisition of talent and our ability to retain and grow that talent within the organization.
“There is also a component of the role that is focused on external eminence, which means our relationships with suppliers and partners, and my role is responsible for managing and securing those relationships and identifying equitable partners for partnership.”
In terms of partnerships and outside vendors, are you specifically looking for companies that are either women-owned or minority-owned to have as partners with XPO?
“We have four primary pillars of focus: We’re focused on pipeline, on our internal promotions, making sure that we understand where we are and where we want to go. And when we identify partners, we’re looking for organizations that have strong diversity and inclusion programs, but also can support the initiatives that we have in regards to our pipeline growth, our internal development and helping us assess our organization’s strengths and opportunities.”
Back in June, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applied to people who face job discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status, XPO’s CEO and Chairman Bradley Jacobs made this statement on LinkedIn: “Here’s what I say to the LGBTQ plus community – you’re welcome at XPO. Why was it important for Mr. Jacobs to make that type of a statement following the Supreme Court ruling?
“Well, I can’t answer specifically for Brad on why it was important for him to make that statement. But what I can tell you is that XPO has five core values that include safety, being respectful, having an entrepreneurial spirit, being innovative and inclusive. And when we think about those five values, it’s important that our employees have a sense of belonging.
“From a diversity and inclusion perspective, we’re creating an environment where every employee that is interested in working for XPO and that is an employee at XPO feels as though they belong.”
For many years, there’s been a great deal of talk about diversity and inclusiveness in the workforce. From your perspective, looking out at corporate America as a whole, do you think that the nation is making progress in this front?
“Over the past 10 years, I have seen diversity and inclusion grow from being a metric space, focused into a part of organizations’ culture and fiber. And when I think about our nation, and specifically where we are as an organization, there is always a period of time that drives or is a catalyst for change.
“At XPO, we’re focused on ensuring that our culture and our organization are representative of the customers and the employees that we employ. We are also focused on our pipeline development, internal promotions, assessment about organization and our partnerships are critical to ensuring that we align to the market.”
In the course of your work, what do you see as the most interesting challenges?
“Most organizations want to hire the best talent. We want to retain our talent and we want to grow our talented employees. We hear from our employees that they love the culture and want to grow, and so our focus is on removing any barriers that are in place that would prevent employees from feeling they can grow. We also want to ensure that we are an organization that is attractive to the top talent in the market.”
What feedback has the company gotten from its partners around the U.S. and overseas in regard to its commitment to diversity and inclusivity?
“XPO is one of the top 10 providers in cutting-edge supply chain, logistics and transportation. What we have received from our partners and our customers is an opportunity to continue to carry that brand forward.
“Most organizations that are innovative and continue to invest in themselves and their talent continue to grow their bottom line. Where XPO has benefited is in our ability to stay innovative and continue to invest in talent, and that has resulted in the opportunity for customer growth and retain relationships.”
Where do you find your new talent?
“We recently just had a planning strategy meeting on how to grow our pipeline, and here’s a couple of things that we’re doing: We’re expanding our relationships with historically black colleges and universities, we’re expanding our relationships with veteran support groups and LGBTQ+ allies, and we’re looking at partners that focus in those areas of recruitment and diversity, talent and expanding those relationships. These are helping us build and build our strong pipeline.”
What does the company look for in terms of the individual to join XPO?
“At the core, we’re looking for individuals that can support and maintain our cultural values within our organization. We want the brightest talent in the areas in which we’re recruiting, and we assess talent based on their attributes, their experience and what they bring to the table.”
The post Suite Talk: LaQuenta Jacobs, chief diversity officer at XPO Logistics appeared first on Westfair Communications.
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