An annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in the nation’s history, Black History Month was introduced by noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans in 1915. Since 1976, every president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.
This year, the theme for Black History Month is “Black Health and Wellness.” According to The History Channel, February is a month for not only exploring the legacy of Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also the birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists and others in African Diaspora, or the worldwide collection of communities descended from native Africans or people from Africa, predominantly in the Americas.
At DB Schenker, we are extremely proud of our diverse, inclusive team of professionals who help our customers move their freight around the world on a daily basis. Here, we highlight some of the team members and celebrate their African American heritage with them in observance of Black History Month.
Elevating Lives Through Inclusion and Diversity
As support to Process Management, and CEM, at DB Schenker, Latece Young supports the sales planning and strategy team. “I’m responsible for having a great attitude, respecting my colleagues’/peers’ opinion and creative input, and updating and improving processes.” says Young, who likes working for a company that’s committed to innovation, core values, and an advocate for health and wellness.
“DB Schenker is also open to change and unapologetic about pushing limits in a successful 150-year business span,” Young adds, and all “while elevating lives through inclusion and diversity by standing behind a zero-tolerance framework policy regarding any racist behavior in the workplace and offering opportunities that benefit personal and professional growth.”
For Young, Black History Month means having pride in a gift that keeps on giving, year after year, while connecting generation, after generation, after generation. “It’s a historical letter of hope,” says Young, who has family ties to Coretta Scott King, “celebrating the dignity and value of every African, and African American person for their unique contributions to American history. Their lives have made our world richer and infinitely better by paving the way for inclusion, civil rights, equity in justice, and education”
Young says Black History Month traditions extend year-round and include learning something today in Black history that she didn’t know yesterday plus annual family reunions that help reinforce family identity and values. At those events, there’s always an emphasis on education and excellence where traditional dishes and recipes are shared, and a time of family unity, reflection and direction are imparted.
To commemorate this year’s Black History Month Health and Wellness theme, Young proudly acknowledges and honors eight African American Female Pioneers that historically changed the course of global health despite having experienced profound discrimination, racism, underemployment, and underpayment throughout their personal and professional lives.
They are: Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1831-1895), Mary Eliza Mahoney RN (1845-1926), Dr. Ruth Ella Moore (1903-1994), Dr. Jane Cooke Wright (1919-2013), Dr. Patricia E. Bath (1942-2019), Dr. Mae C. Jemison (1956), Dr. Marilyn Hughes Gaston (1939) and Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett (1986).
As a takeaway, Young also shares one of her favorite and most empowering quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with hopes that it will also empower others: “If you can’t fly, then run…. If you can’t run, then walk…. if you can’t walk, then crawl…. but whatever you do…. keep moving.”
Have Integrity in Everything You Do
Shannon M. Perteit, General Manager III at Schenker Inc., Americas, started as a case pick operator and soon afterwards moved into other roles such as forklift operator, team leader, shift supervisor, project manager, operations manager of supply warehouse, general manager I, II and now III.
Perteit is currently responsible for 314 total associates that span across two buildings. Those facilities house DB Schenker’s direct-to-consumer, new customization, co-pack operations, re-work operations, floor load operations, bulk shipping and other operations. Perteit says the best part about working with the company is the opportunity for advancement and the diversity of his team.
“I am honored to have managers and associates from every walk of life that I work with every single day,” Perteit says. “The challenges associated with the operation are vast, but my team comes in every day looking for the next challenge.”
For Perteit, Black History Month means that he stands on the shoulders of the men and women that came before him. “This became real for me when my grandfather visited the site. He said, ‘You are responsible for all of this. When I was coming up, a black man could not hold these types of positions. I am proud of you,’” Perteit explains. “Black History Month also means that my kids will know that as young Black men and women, nothing will be a barrier for you.”
A head Taekwondo instructor at Iowa City Parks and Recreation, Perteit says “walking the talk,” playing fair and being honest are DB Schenker values that he tries to live every day. “One thing I tell my students and children alike is, ‘You only have to tell the truth once,’” says Perteit. “’But if you have to be dishonest, you will have to tell it multiple times. Have integrity in everything you do.’”
We Can Count on Him
David L. Jones, Operations Manager USA, Schenker Inc., joined the company in November 2010 as an operations supervisor. Within two years he was promoted to operations manager for the P&G account.
Today, he’s responsible for the hiring and development of associates, ensuring that the operation meets all of the customers’ and DB Schenker’s KPI goals, and working closely with management to recognize, develop and or correct operational problems and or issues.
“The best part of working for DB Schenker is helping to develop associates to achieve their goals within the organization,” says Jones, an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hunting in his leisure time. For Jones, Black History Month encompasses embracing the history of his ancestors and how they helped to push and drive him forward in everything he does.
The DB Schenker value that Jones follows most closely is “Play fair and be honest.” Throughout his career, he’s been straightforward and to the point. “My associates will tell you that I mean what I say, and I say what I mean,” Jones says. “They can always count on the fact that I’ll answer the question and if I can’t then I’ll make sure that I get them the answer they need.”
Attracting and Retaining Top Talent
With nine years of experience in the human resources field, including four years with DB Schenker as a Senior Compensation Analyst, Kimberly Norris helps the company administer compensation policies that are fair, equitable and competitive within the marketplace. Those policies also align with the company’s overarching compensation strategy and values.
“Our team provides support to the HR department by providing recommendations on various compensation inquiries as well as interpreting compensation practices, policies and guidelines,” says Norris, who really enjoys working in a supportive work environment where her contributions help the company attract and retain top talent.
For Norris, Black History Month is the acknowledgement and appreciation of African American culture, history and achievements. “At an early age my parents taught me about the leadership, determination, integrity and sacrifices of those that came before me,” she says. “Those teachings have helped mold me into the person that I am today.” For Black History Month, Norris’ family visits museums and exhibits, and purchases literature about important African American figures. “We also watch documentaries and movies that review the history and experiences of notable African Americans,” she adds.
Many of DB Schenker’s values align with Norris’ own values, which include putting in hard work and always “walking the talk.” “In my work life,” she says, “I make great efforts to achieve the company’s mission by providing excellent customer service, reducing turnaround times and looking for more efficient ways to complete tasks.”
I Am Black History
Faith Williams, DB Schenker USA’s Compensation Manager, joined the company’s finance department eight years ago and made the transition to human resources as a compensation analyst five years ago. Today, she’s responsible for managing the planning, implementation, and administration of compensation programs for the US.
She also manages compensation related projects, training and initiatives, and through these activities gets to interact with many different associates. “The best part of working for DB Schenker is the people,” says Williams, “my time in Finance and HR has allowed me the opportunity to work with so many great people across the organization”.
Reflecting on Black History Month, Williams says it’s a showcase of the strong, resilient, and rich heritage that she embodies every day of the year. “I am Black history; the result of every sacrifice, victory, protest, and dedication to the advancement of Black people,” says Williams. “It’s the opportunity to shed light on more than slavery and struggle, but the achievements, creativity, and ingenuity of a determined people.”
In her free time, she likes to watch her son compete in high school sports and visit her daughter in college. Williams says DB Schenker’s core values align well with her own. “DB Schenker values taking customers farther, and this is my approach in life and community,” she points out. “Every day, I make an effort to be better and to inspire others to be better. The impact of a kind word, simple encouragement, or act of kindness can make a difference in someone’s life.”
Culture of Collaboration
A newer member of the DB Schenker family, Steve Pierre, Head of Sales, Northeast, joined the company one year ago to lead the Northeast US field sales team. He also collaborates with his functional partners in product and operations to implement solutions to facilitate the sales process.
Steve Pierre is also responsible for developing his current team members for future career opportunities and recruiting new team members to the organization to support DB Schenker’s growth strategy. His team includes 16 sales professionals and one sales support specialist that are collectively responsible for one of the most economically-vibrant geographies in the US.
“Our segment’s focus is the growth and retention of the small and medium-size accounts. This segment is very important to Schenker because it provides more diversification to the organization,” says Pierre, who believes that the best part of working for the company is its culture of collaboration. “Despite the challenges in the industry, we work as a team to tackle any issues.”
Pierre says Black History Month is a reminder to look at the history of our ancestors before, during and after slavery. “Africa as a civilization was very rich in terms of culture, mathematics, and literature prior to the slave trade,” says Pierre, who completed three Spartan races (a series of obstacle races of varying distance and difficulty ranging from three miles to marathon distances) between 2016 and 2019.
In observance of Black History Month, Pierre says his family honors and learns about the exceptional Black leaders who made contributions to society. “Our community is very diverse. We teach our family about the importance of learning different cultures by being curious and learning about it,” says Pierre “The appreciation of different cultures helps us strive as a community.”
Pushing the Limits
Kiona Pandola joined the DB Schenker team in 2017 and is currently Human Resources Manager for the company’s Shared Services Center. She’s been in that role since April 2021 and says she truly loves what she does and the impact that she’s making. Her favorite parts of working for DB Schenker are the collaboration and the advancement opportunities.
Pandola views Black History Month as a time to highlight all the great African Americans who have contributed to her culture and community. “During this time, I like to rejoice, celebrate, and thank those who helped to create a better quality of life,” says Pandola, “through education and innovation, amongst many other things.”
During Black History Month, Pandola’s family gathers for dinners and participates in various activities to celebrate. “I love crafting, so every year I create crafts and memorabilia to highlight our family culture,” she says. “That way, we can have memories within our family to pass down for generations to come.”
As someone who has enjoyed playing coed softball for the last 10 years, Pandola applies her teamwork philosophy in the workplace, where she strives to be “one team with one goal” in order to accomplish what is needed. “While working and participating in my community, I always try to push limits and lend a hand when I can,” says Pandola. “I volunteer at foodbanks, youth sports events and shelters when I can throughout the year.”
DB Schenker is extremely proud of its diverse workforce and the different ways that its African American team members are celebrating Black History Month this year. “This is a wonderful time to pause and honor those who came before us, carved out paths and enabled our individual successes both in work and life,” says Stacey Brown, Chief Human Resources Officer, Americas. “I’d like to give a big thanks to all of them and also to every DB Schenker associate who works hard to elevate our organization and our customers.”