Amazon has launched the #SheIsAmazon campaign to spotlight women employees and partners who are working to break down societal, cultural, disability, and economic barriers to achieve their goals and level the playing field for others. Here, six of these amazing women share their thoughts on embracing equity, this year’s global International Women’s Day (IWD) theme.
Fawn Sanchez is a senior HR leader at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and serves as president of Indigenous at Amazon, one of the company’s 13 employee affinity groups. She said: “When I think of equity, it’s less about intention and more about access. I believe that most people have good intentions and are trying to create space for people around them, but sometimes there are barriers to access, especially in underserved communities.”
Sanchez has played an important role in encouraging Indigenous employees to get involved in mentoring, as both mentors and mentees. It started when she was looking for a mentor for herself. She noticed that there weren’t many members of the Indigenous community in the program, so she started reaching out—and tripled participation within a couple of months. She has also brought members of the community into other Amazon programs, such as Amazon Future Engineer and Class Chats.
“We need to look at our own process and services, and question whether they are accessible or whether there is a digital divide,” Sanchez said. “To me that is what ’embrace equity’ means—looking deeper and making sure that everyone has equal access to participate.”
Brooke Davis-Bagley is a staffing coordinator for Amazon’s Workforce Staffing team in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and she serves on the global board of Glamazon, Amazon’s affinity group for LGBTQIA+ employees and allies. She has been with Amazon nearly a decade and started her career with the company as a seasonal operations employee.
“For me, embracing equity has several meanings. It means proudly representing and being seen as a Black trans person. It means coming to work every day to advocate for and help those in need of a job or support in the trans community. It means recognizing how much harder I have to fight compared to my cis-gender counterparts and beyond,” Davis-Bagley said. “It means that our bodies and minds matter and we shouldn’t be seen as the weaker sex because of the choices we may have to make in life. As women, we should be embraced and praised for trying to be the person who wants it all, and we shouldn’t have to lose ourselves—our purpose or our identity—to get it.”
Susan Meadows is an ambassador for an Amazon fulfillment center in Ajax, Ontario, whose job is to assist with the training and development of other staff members interested in pursuing her same career path. She started her career at Amazon in October 2021, and has been trained as a packer, a quality control associate, and a problem solver. Meadows is currently licensed to drive a powered industrial truck called an Order Picker. She is also Deaf.
“Being not exactly alike should not be the determining factor in how one’s abilities are perceived,” Meadows said. “Embracing equity means embracing everyone without bias so that they can be their most authentic selves and thrive.”
CaSondra Devine serves as director of Supplier Diversity and Inclusion (SD&I) for Amazon’s Global Procurement Organization, in support of Worldwide Stores. She is responsible for leading an SD&I strategy that acts as a driver for economic impact through increased utilization, development, and scale of diverse-owned and small businesses.
“Embracing equity, to me, means understanding that we do not all start from the same place. Each of us has a role to play in meeting people and communities where they are and providing additional resources where needed to address imbalances,” Devine said.
“It is doing mission work in South Africa with my church and dedicating wells for clean water, donating Kindles to the school district due to lack of access to books, and housing an exchange student,” she added. “It is implementing a funding strategy to support a nonprofit facility for women in transition and creating a disability etiquette toolkit for community awareness and engagement. It is housing and supporting a high school student with the necessary resources to get into college and donating to social justice initiatives.”
We cannot exist by turning our heads away from the people who need us most,” Devine said. “We must do our part to raise the bar and make the world we live in fair for everyone.”
Phoebe Wang is an investment partner and leads the Female Founder Initiative at the Climate Pledge Fund. The Climate Pledge Fund invests in companies working on climate technologies that can help address global warming. The Fund recently pledged to invest $50 million in women-led and women-founded companies through its Female Founder Initiative, a body of work Wang is proud to lead.
“Women represent half of the population but did not have a meaningful say in any societal affairs until the last century, when they gained the right to vote. We’ve come a long way, but women still face invisible glass ceilings and barriers, including in the venture capital industry,” Wang said. “For every $50 invested in startup companies run by men, only $1 goes to female founders. To me, embracing equity means we not only want to ensure women are at the table, but that women are making leadership decisions. In my job, it means ensuring that female climate tech founders have an equal opportunity to secure the funding they need to pursue their innovations.”
Laura Jones is a Delivery Service Partner (DSP) based out of an Amazon delivery station in Pontiac, Michigan. Her son, Marquese, had a dream of becoming an Amazon DSP. When he passed away at age 26 from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, his mother stepped up to fulfill his dream.
“Embracing equity is actionable to me,” Jones said. “Recognizing inequities within our communities leads to their exposure but doesn’t exclusively fuel resolution. Once identified, it is our job to actively set our intention to restore the imbalance by invoking fairness and impartiality. Change occurs in this stage, and this is where the real work begins for us all.”
On the verge of her first year anniversary with Amazon, Jones now employs more than 55 drivers, who she considers her extended family.
“I treat my business and my team of drivers how I treat my family: leading by example, listening, supporting, and having high expectations,” she said.
Learn more about how Amazon in celebrating International Women’s Day.
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