Black History Month commemorates the achievements and contributions of Black Americans throughout history. It serves as a time to recognize the struggles and celebrate the accomplishments of the Black community to foster awareness and understanding of their heritage and the ongoing fight for equality.
During this Black History Month, the AssetWorks team spoke with one of our partners whose mission is to enhance equity within the fleet industry. Through our discussion, we gained insight into their experiences and perspectives- offering guidance on fostering diversity and inclusion throughout the industry.
“I have been in the industry for about 20 years- you are looked at differently. People don’t talk about it, but it happens, and it is real, and our businesses feel the effect of it every day. Since being with Black Fleet Network, people are more open and talking about it so we can overcome these challenges.”- Karla Jackson, Black Fleet Network’s Chief Operating Officer.
Meet the Black Fleet Network
The Black Fleet Network (BFN) was founded by Exavious Farley in 2023- who has been in the fleet industry for nearly a decade. “We did our homework. We had real conversations with people in the industry who have been around for decades of various cultural backgrounds. For the Black professionals, there was an overwhelming need for a support organization to take down barriers,” said Black Fleet Network’s Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Exavious Farley.
Since launching their network, BFN has seen an impact. Black fleet professionals had voiced their hesitancy of attending industry events with the worry of being the only Black professional in the room, wondering how they would be perceived. BFN now attends trade shows and industry events from coast to coast, including the AssetWorks Academy, helping relieve the worry many Black fleet professionals relate to.
Even though BFN has already made a lasting impression on the industry, more work needs to be done outside of Black History Month. “February is dope, but let’s take the 28 days of February and go ahead and extend it to 365. It’s time to dig real deep because the fact is there’s a number of companies that need to be honest, and that’s people being honest,” said Farley.
Fostering Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
The BFN plays a role in advancing diversity and inclusion within the industry by providing a supportive community for Black professionals. Through collaborative efforts, BFN strives to create equal opportunities and drive positive change in workplaces, and here are some key ways fleets can do so:
- Implement Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
Develop diversity and inclusion programs to ensure representation and equal opportunities for underrepresented groups, such as diversity training and fostering inclusive workplace cultures.
- Removing Bias from Hiring Processes
Implement measures to mitigate bias in hiring and performance evaluation processes. “I am not calling for a shift in federal law when it comes to non-discrimination clauses, but people need to be real in the fact that they do discriminate,” stated Farley. Fleets can instead transition to blind recruitment practices or diversity quotas to ensure fair representation.
- Partnering with External Organizations
Collaborate with external organizations, community groups, and industry associations focusing on advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives within the fleet industry, such as BFN. Organizations like BFN can amplify their impact through their expertise and create lasting change.
Implementing diversity and inclusion programs is the beginning of the journey- companies must maintain open communication with their staff. “I just heard from someone in another industry that they have a committee at their employment, but their office was open on Martin Luther King. The conversation had was to use one PTO day to take off,” said Jackson. BFN advises that companies consistently rethink their diversity and inclusion initiatives to foster an environment where everyone can thrive. Creating a supporting environment for equitable opportunities allows everyone to collectively drive positive change and create more inclusive workplaces for all.
Beyond the Month of February
Moving forward, we must all actively seek opportunities to educate ourselves, engage with diverse perspectives, and advocate for change. “My final thoughts for the fleet industry for Black History Month and beyond is to have those hard conversations because we can learn from each other, and I think as we learn and grow, we will continue to succeed,” said Jackson. Having hard conversations could mean advocating for the previously mentioned diverse hiring practices, supporting underrepresented employees, or implementing diversity and inclusion programs.
By continuing to educate ourselves, advocate for others, and take meaningful action, we can ensure that the principles of Black History Month are honored and upheld throughout the year.
To learn more about the Black Fleet Network and their mission, visit blackfleetnetwork.org.