Photo courtesy of XPO Logistics
What’s one difference between serving in the military and a corporate job? Well, “deciding what to wear every day” is a big change, quipped Marianne Malizia, Senior Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at XPO Logistics.
At XPO, Malizia uses the values of inclusivity and respect that were instilled in her in the Army to help improve XPO’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, which she says, “have gained momentum over the last year.” XPO is “focused on strengthening and maintaining an inclusive culture where employees of all backgrounds are valued and possess a true sense of belonging,” Malizia says.
As part of this, XPO recruits talent from all backgrounds, such as veterans. In this area, XPO has been named a 2021 Military Friendly Employer and is partnered with the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program.
In honor of Military Appreciation Month, Malizia shared some insight with Fairygodboss about her experiences as a veteran starting a civilian job.
What factors were most important to you in transitioning from a military to a civilian job? Are there any challenges associated with that transition that people may not be aware of?
When I transitioned from the military, it was important that the organization I joined embraced the same values that were instilled in me as a cadet and then as an officer in the United States Army. At West Point, we lived by General Douglas MacArthur’s farewell speech to the Corps of Cadets in 1962 where he said, “Duty, honor, country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.” Those tenets carried into the Army, ensuring that all are treated with respect and allowed to both learn and succeed in being a team member, a leader and a valued member of the Armed Forces.
The challenges of transitioning into a civilian job were not extensive for me. However, I had to learn that when you presented your ideas in meetings, you didn’t give a briefing standing at attention or parade rest as we did in the Army. Instead, you had a dialogue and a conversation. Another adjustment was referring to colleagues and leadership by their first names rather than by their rank or title. However, with practice that became second nature.
Do you believe that your military background has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid your career today?
Being in the Army provided me with the opportunity to work alongside soldiers of all backgrounds, races, religions and ethnicities. It was an inclusive environment that truly valued the diversity of all soldiers within a unit. We were challenged to be our best, and no matter the challenges presented to us, we learned to work together as a team to accomplish a common goal. Although there was always a company commander, a battalion commander, etc., we learned that as a member of the company, battalion or squad, leadership could be fluid, with us leveraging the strengths and talents of everyone in the unit to meet the objectives. All of these are lessons learned and the associated skills are still valuable to this day.
Tell me a bit about XPO Logistics’ D&I efforts and/or employee resource groups.
XPO’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts have gained momentum over the last year. It’s about creating sustainable programs that meet the needs of our business. We are focused on strengthening and maintaining an inclusive culture where employees of all backgrounds are valued and possess a true sense of belonging. We do this by recruiting talent from all backgrounds and providing developmental programs to grow their skills and their careers. Whether it’s frontline workers through our Grow at XPO developmental program or our Rise at XPO program for high-potential senior-level employees, XPO provides an internal pipeline for diverse talent to move into senior leadership roles. The roadmap forward includes our Development Leadership program, which is focused on mid-level managers, as well as additional programs for women in leadership, managers and supervisors.
We have ERGs that allow for increased employee engagement and the creation and sustainment of allyship across people of all backgrounds. We partner with and sponsor external organizations that are also focused on inclusion and equity of all people in alignment with our values, with a focus on creating a safe, respectful and inclusive culture. We also partner with the many communities where we work and live to drive sustainable relationships that will enhance and support those communities.
With our Inclusion Series Broadcasts, we provide a platform for listening to important conversations, with employees from different backgrounds coming together on a monthly basis to discuss challenges, best practices and tips for success, as well as to address important conversations that are happening both internally and externally to XPO.
To ensure that the work we are doing is relevant to our different business units and resonates with our employees, we leverage the input and thought leadership of our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Steering Committee, which consists of senior leaders from across the business. We also have a robust and growing curriculum of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion courses and workshops to educate our employees and leadership as we continue to evolve our culture of inclusion.
Lastly, we are building programs to meet the unique needs of our employees. For example, our #SHEISXPO mentoring program is focused on the development of women in our workplace through mentorship. For XPO, this is only the beginning of our roadmap.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women, and especially other women veterans, who are looking for jobs right now?
Believe in yourself. Don’t put off the opportunity to take on a new role or position because you don’t have 100% of the capabilities or skills that the job needs. Realize that we are continuously learning and growing and unless you embrace the vulnerability of not having it all, you will not allow yourself the opportunity to grow and excel. Identify a mentor – someone who you would like to “grow up to be” – and ask them to mentor you. Be aware of your strengths, be a continuous learner, respect others and lead from the heart.
Does XPO Logistics have any special programs or D&I initiatives like return to work, veteran and military spouse hiring, internships, or retrainings?
XPO is proud to be recognized by VIQTORY as a 2021 Military Friendly Employer and we are very excited about our partnership with the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program. This program is a natural fit for our focus on recruiting and retaining veterans. The program connects us with top talent transitioning out of the military and, in turn, we provide these transitioning service members with a behind-the-scenes look at what makes our company great through a 12-week fellowship program, very much like an internship. In a perfect world, when the program is over, the veterans would be offered and accept a permanent role within XPO.
In 2020, we introduced a self-identification program where our veterans and active-duty employees can voluntarily self-identify as having served our country. Each self-identified service member, past or present, was presented an XPO Challenge Coin as recognition of their service to our country. Challenge Coins are presented during Military Appreciation Month in May and in alignment with Veterans Day in November to those who have recently self-identified.
We also have an exciting initiative that is rolling out during Military Appreciation Month: we are wrapping 15 of our vehicles in a military-themed design. The drivers of these vehicles have been selected because they are veterans of one of the branches of service and also hold the distinction of driving at least one million miles accident free. Keep your eyes out, you may be lucky enough to see one of our veteran drivers in a military-themed wrapped tractor!
What has your ERG accomplished that you’re most proud of?
I am most proud of the tireless effort that went into creating these ERGs. ERGs are a critical component in the success of our organization. Taking the time to carefully listen, develop and implement these resources is something that I am extremely thankful for.
What do you think other companies can learn from how XPO Logistics handles ERG’s and D&I initiatives?
The one lesson that I will share is that it is important to ensure your ERG’s have a clear mission and values statement that employees can align with and champion. When employees feel empowered, there is no telling how much an organization will accomplish.
How is your XPO Logistics’ women’s network or ERG reflective of the overall culture?
From our board to our transportation and logistics employees, women are on the frontlines of everything that we do. XPO leads our industry relative to women in leadership roles, and we continue to focus our pipeline development on attracting more women to our organization as well as providing growth opportunities for women within our organization. Women accounted for 27.2% of XPO’s total headcount as compared to the 15% of women represented in the workforce of the transportation industry. This is largely due to XPO’s ERG #SHEISXPO, various mentorship programs for women and strategic partnerships. These programs build engagement with women and allies across the organization.
How has XPO Logistics engaged with or supported its communities? Is this done on a global, national, or local level?
We are engaged with local communities and are also fortunate enough to have a global footprint that impacts communities all over the world. XPO has formed strategic partnerships with many incredible organizations. A few of our national and global partnerships are with Susan G. Komen, Soles4Souls and Truckers Against Trafficking. XPO is the official transportation partner for all Susan G. Komen three-day walks. Together with Soles4Souls, we’re committed to ending the cycle of poverty and providing relief to those in need. Last year, we transported more than 100,000 pairs of new shoes around the globe, providing multinational logistics services free of charge. Additionally, our partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking is critical to putting an end to vicious trafficking rings.
At a local level, we’ve teamed up with Girls With Impact, a nonprofit entrepreneurship program for teen girls, delivered live from the home or road. XPO funds 10-week learning programs that teach students how to develop plans for new ventures, collaborate through technology and pursue college degrees
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