At UPS, supplier diversity manager Latasha Griffin is helping to drive the utilization of small and diverse-owned businesses. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but it also aligns perfectly with UPS’s growth strategy.
In her personal life, other things have intersected as well. Whether business or personal, growth has been the theme.
“Supplier diversity initiatives were started by the Nixon administration following the civil unrest in the late ‘60s and corporations got involved as a matter of social responsibility,” Latasha said, describing supplier diversity origins. “UPS got more actively engaged in 1992, and since then we’ve evolved our understanding of the benefits of diversity and inclusion overall. Today we view supplier diversity as a business strategy that brings value to the organization because we recognize how innovative, agile and efficient small businesses and diverse-owned businesses can be. They can pivot quickly and bring value that large companies sometimes can’t.”
Beyond a love for what she does professionally, Latasha also loves the direction UPS is taking to foster an inclusive environment for all employees. She has seen the culture shift first-hand during her 13 years with the company, and she appreciates the opportunity to be a part of it.
“There’s always more we can do,” she said. “That fundamental UPS way of being constructively dissatisfied … I will continue to find ways to learn about the challenges my colleagues are facing and work to be more inclusive.”
As the chair of the corporate chapter of the LGBT & Allies Business Resource Group (BRG), Latasha has a platform to continue the conversation.
“There is a unique opportunity here for all UPSers to leverage the momentum of the diversity, equity and inclusion movement to really challenge the organization to think and act differently ... throw away the model of incremental change,” Latasha said. “To get full inclusion for everyone, we have to make big strides, move past what’s comfortable and easily attainable.”
When she first joined the LGBT & Allies BRG she considered her role differently than she does today.
“When I joined the BRG leadership team in 2015, I joined as an ally,” she remembered. “Not because I was ashamed of being bisexual, but because there was some uncertainty about asserting the full LGBTQ culture when most of my relationships had been with men.”
“Similarly, I am Black and Puerto Rican. My father is Puerto Rican but I did not grow up around him or his family so there is also still a great deal of dissonance with asserting myself as Latina because culturally I have missed out on a lot.”
“Joining the BRG gave me the safe space I needed to feel better connected to the community. It helped me be more comfortable with embracing all parts of my identity and live more authentically. In the same way, spending time in Puerto Rico as often as I can helps me embrace the heritage I’ve been missing and to better understand myself.”
Her experience, and what she later learned about intersectionality, helped Latasha become more comfortable affirming her identities. Intersectionality is a term introduced by civil rights advocate and educator Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how a person’s multiple marginalized identities may overlap causing them to experience the world much differently from others in any one group.
“For example, being a Black, Puerto Rican, bisexual woman, raised by a single parent, who became disabled just as I was becoming an adult gives me a unique perspective others might not have,” Latasha said. “It has had its challenges for sure. I’ve had to be resilient, resourceful and tenacious about every bit of ground I gain. But ultimately, these challenges have turned out to be incredible gifts that have allowed me to take advantage of opportunities, create space for my passions and pour into others.”
When it comes to Pride Month, Latasha sees a universal theme … another intersection.
“Pride is about being an ally for everyone,” she said. “We’ve come a long way since the first BRGs were created in 2006, but I want to be sure I am a voice that continues to have the conversations that need to be had … we don’t want to lose the momentum we’ve gained. We must be unafraid to communicate what challenges still exist. UPS is earnestly moving toward inclusion for all. Our leaders want and need our input to build the future of this company.”