In an era where the success of fleet management is deeply intertwined with fostering diversity, the recent Black Fleet Network (BFN) panel discussion at DeliveryCon 2023 shed light on the paramount importance of inclusive work environments.
Exavious Farley, the CEO and Founder of BFN emphasized the critical correlation between workforce diversity and operational efficiency in today's dynamic business landscape.
Sharing the stage with industry professionals Dr. Tyra Jones, Devon Biglow of ZEVX, and Lora Dunton of J3 Management Group, the panel unanimously championed the notion that diversity acts as a catalyst for organizational success.
Drawing a compelling analogy, Biglow likened a diverse workforce to a multifaceted football team, highlighting the significance of a blend of talents and perspectives in achieving collective victory.
“You can’t have a team full of quarterbacks and expect to win the game,” he said. “You need people of a variety of backgrounds,” he said.
Expanding on this notion, Dr. Jones emphasized the indispensable role of diverse skill sets in driving organizational growth.
“You need a diverse skillset. You can hire a diverse workforce, but if they all have the same skills, it’s not going to be helpful,” Dr. Jones said. “There is an opportunity when an employee excels to cultivate an environment for the progressive advancement of skills.”
Delving into practical strategies, Dunton highlighted the value of recognizing existing skills in potential employees, underscoring the transformative impact of cultivating these abilities within the company's ecosystem.
Referencing a successful recruitment experience, Dunton shared how she identified and nurtured exceptional customer service skills in an employee from a fast-food background, showcasing the latent potential in non-traditional candidates.
“Build on the skills employees already have,” Dunton said. “Solid customer service, for example. Build up the next generation.”
Echoing the sentiment, Biglow recounted his journey, emphasizing the critical role of mentorship in nurturing talent. Drawing from his diverse professional background, encompassing roles in customer service, retail, and entertainment, Biglow underscored how mentorship played a pivotal role in his growth within the fleet management sector.
The panel discussion also emphasized the significance of introspection and continuous improvement within organizational structures. Dr. Jones recommended a comprehensive SWOT analysis to assess the efficacy of existing processes, encouraging fleet managers to evaluate and adapt to the industry's evolving demands critically.
Toward the end of the discussion, Dr. Jones shared a key piece of hiring advice.
“Ask what they are passionate about,” she said, noting that information can go a long way toward nurturing their growth and finding a role they will be successful with. That human connection is needed.
The panel underscored the importance of fostering a culture of belonging while upholding accountability. Farley’s anecdote about an airport executive who actively engages with his staff, walking the site every day, serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative impact of authentic leadership in cultivating a cohesive and inclusive work environment.
Ultimately, the message from the BFN panel at DeliveryCon 2023 resonates deeply: diversity isn't just a buzzword; it's a transformative force that drives innovation, fosters resilience, and propels success within the dynamic realm of fleet management.
By nurturing diverse talent and embracing inclusive practices, fleet managers can elevate their operational performance and pave the way for a more sustainable and thriving future in the industry.