A month for reflecting on the significant contributions that African Americans played—and continue to play—in shaping U.S. history, Black History Month is a very special time for DB Schenker’s employees.
February marks Black History Month, a national, federally-recognized celebration that calls on all Americans to reflect on the significant roles that African Americans played in shaping US history.
Since the 1970s that familiar declaration has introduced countless celebrations of African American history and achievement, from Black History Minutes on local television stations to the pronouncements of U.S. presidents. Other traditions that take place during this very special month include displays of civil rights photography, concerts, museum exhibits, and celebrations.
Here at DB Schenker, our employees take pride in their African American heritage and have set forth their own special traditions to celebrate Black History Month. A Sr. Regional Recruiter, Ericka Washington recruits for DB Schenker’s air and ocean positions in Long Beach, Carson, San Francisco, and Seattle. She says February is a time for showcasing African American ideas, people, and events that have taken place over time. “This month means everything to me,” says Washington, who is a member of the first African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Founded in 1908, the organization just celebrated its 112-year anniversary.
Through her membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Washington and her fellow members view it is as their responsibility to serve their respective community by hosting community outreach events, empowering African American women, and providing resources to the community at large. Washington takes these responsibilities seriously. “It’s an organization that I’m very proud to be a part of,” she says. “We do a lot of clothing drives and food drives and our chapters donate thousands of dollars in scholarships to our young black women and men.”
An Honest Approach to Life and Work
For Josh Wagoner, Black History Month is a great opportunity to reflect and learn about the many contributions that African Americans have made and continue to make to our country. As DB Schenker’s Business Development Manager, Aerospace, Wagoner has worked for the company for four years and is a long-time Dallas-Fort Worth resident.
In his job role, Wagoner is responsible for Aerospace commercial growth within the central region of the country. He travels a lot and enjoys the experiences and the customers that he meets and interacts with. “I also enjoy the diversity of employees I interact with at DB Schenker,” says Wagoner, “and the fact that I am a small part of a sophisticated global network of employees, all of whom work to keep the global supply chain moving and to satisfy our customers’ needs.”
During Black History Month, Wagoner puts time into learning about accomplishments from African Americans that he wasn’t previously familiar with. Some of that newfound knowledge is gleaned through trips to his local African American museum. “We also own black history flash cards and we each read about two people and their accomplishments,” Wagoner explains, noting that his “wish list” includes a trip to Washington to see the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
In living out DB Schenker’s values at work and in his community at large, Wagoner says he strives to create trust-based relationships with customers; includes his teammates/family/friends in his successes; and always plays fair and honest. “Being a person of your word is critical in sales and when dealing with customers,” he adds, “and also in life and personal relationships.”
Strong, Beautiful Black Butterflies
Sophia King started her career with DB Schenker as an account executive lead in 2001. She’s since been promoted to supervisor and then to her current role as Air Export Manager. Today, King is responsible for three supervisors and 15 agents at the company’s Atlanta branch. Reflecting on the 19 years she’s spent working for DB Schenker, King says the absolute best part of the experience has been the opportunities and support she’s received as an African American woman.
“I lead a strong team that understands and embraces our core values,” King says. “Equally as important are the close relationships formed through the years with our internal and external customers for business development.”
For King, Black History Month represents a time for reflection on the numerous accomplishments of her African American ancestors. “I also use this time to remind my children that we are strong beautiful black butterflies,” she says, “and that we should always be courageous and not be led by fear.”
“To celebrate Black History Month, I research and discuss African Americans who have struggled over the decades to defeat marginalization,” she adds, “and those who made significant contributions that have enhanced the lives of all Americans today.”
Groundbreaker. Pioneer. Trailblazer.
This year’s Black History Month theme is “Groundbreaker. Pioneer. Trailblazer.” These are powerful words that Georgia Jones, Human Resources Manager at DB Schenker’s Atlanta office, takes very seriously. “Black History Month is a time I reflect on opportunities and authenticities, purpose and strength, resilience and pride, beauty, and love,” says Jones.
For example, she says her family carves out time to continuously pay tribute to the accomplishments and achievements that they’ve made on a personal, professional, and financial level. “We recognize the historical milestones our culture has made from the past and the present,” says Jones, “and consider what lies ahead for our future.”
Responsible for directing the planning, implementation, administration, and budgeting of one or various human resource functions, Jones sees DB Schenker as an organization that believes in developing itself from the inside out. “We all speak the same language, have the same vision, mission, and goals in mind globally,” says Jones. “We are always evolving, staying on the cutting edge, and pioneers for the future.”
Always Aiming to Succeed
For Michelle Swafford, Senior Air Export Coordinator for DB Schenker’s Oil & Gas Operations in Houston, Black History Month is the perfect time to celebrate the many positive and innovative impacts that African Americans have had on past, present, and future generations.
“Our family tradition is to attend plays and participate in Black History Month programs at our local churches and schools” she says.
Swafford says DB Schenker’s culture aligns well with her own values, which are deeply rooted in integrity, leadership, and determination. “It’s about showing that we’re all equal, have the same rights, and can achieve at the same level of success,” says Swafford, who lives out the organization’s values by being passionate and committed both in the workplace and in her everyday life. “I’m always aiming to succeed in whatever I’m setting forth to do.”