UPS CEO David Abney Reflects on the Companies I Work For and Have Worked For

The CEO of the world’s largest logistics company, United Parcel Service (UPS), says its long history of workplace diversity has made it a “one-stop shop” for the White House.

UPS chairman and CEO David Abney was a delegate to the 1984 Republican National Convention, where he met Ronald Reagan, who later went on to be elected President of the United States, and the late Theodore R. Sorensen, who was JFK’s top speechwriter and a speechwriter for Kennedy. Abney says that from those early days, he has held the Dream about the United States, just like the nation’s first Dreamer, his friend Juan Manuel Marquez.

Having witnessed some of the most traumatic parts of America, including the civil rights movement and the 1989 government shutdown, Abney says he went to law school because he wanted to learn how to help people. “And I’ve always been in favor of making sure people were treated fairly,” he says.

When it comes to voting rights, Abney says it is vital that everyone feels safe at the polls. “The last 50 years have gone by so fast that I feel like people probably forget how things used to be,” he says. “It is so sad. You can’t even get your kids to vote if they’re walking home from school.”

How does he think about the issue? “What’s so funny,” he says, “is it sounds almost quaint when I tell people my grandmother worked at a register. When I tell people my grandmother worked at a register, they tell me that’s really cool. They tell me my grandmother took great pride in being a registrar.”

UPS partners with schools all across the country to prepare students for what will soon be a 1,000-year period of evolution in our understanding of vaccines. They use these dynamic educational videos so students are informed about these kinds of health and safety issues and can advocate in their communities for science-based practices. “We can educate people,” says Abney, “and we also give them some ideas about what to do so that they can be good citizens.”

UPS has a wholly owned subsidiary that provides many services for Medicare enrollees. Over the years, the company has been at the forefront of care for individuals with such conditions as diabetes, asthma, cancer, cancer survivors, AIDS, HIV, hepatitis C, depression, Alzheimer’s, and substance abuse disorders. When it comes to wellness, Abney says that the U.S. is at a crossroads. “We’re coming out of what I would consider a period of true crisis in our nation,” he says. “And the question is, what do we do going forward? There was a time when people did the right thing, but the tide turned so far that we’re going to have to look at new ideas. This country is no longer perfect, but we’re also not perfect by a long shot. So, what do we do?”

The things we have today do not always give the best outcomes. The government may screw up, and you may not always know where your food is coming from. But the things we have today can also make a difference.

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