CEO, Aflac Incoroporated
Corporate Headquarters: Columbus, Georgia
Primary Business: Supplemental Insurance
Revenues: $18 billion
Employees: 8,000 including U.S. and Japan
2011 CEO in Action
As I write this essay, a colleague sent me an interesting article detailing a study from the California State Education Department. It notes that Latinos now make up a majority of California’s public school students, cracking the 50 percent barrier for the first time. Furthermore, 27 percent of students self-identify as white, and 23 percent identify as black, Asian or other.
As the future of our country becomes increasingly diverse, it underscores a dynamic that I, as CEO of a FORTUNE 500 company, must ingrain into the culture of our business. There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach, and the importance of sustaining a strong diversity program is no more a luxury than the air we breathe. You either do it, or you perish.
I’ve learned that true diversity, the kind that develops into an expansion of thought and experiences, won’t happen without a commitment from the top, which is why I insist on a strong diversity program. If we hired only people who looked and sounded like me, it would limit our success, so I celebrate our eclectic workforce. We have women – in particular, minority women – at the highest levels. More than 40 percent of our employees are minorities, while women account for more than half of our management team, including 30 percent of senior executives.
While having a naturally diverse employee pool is a privilege, embracing this good fortune provides the credibility we need to break into untapped or underrepresented consumer markets by showing decision makers, our potential customers, that we are serious about diversity, which makes us stronger as a company.
Turning Words into Actions
Since 2003, we’ve spent more than $100 million working with diverse suppliers, leading one magazine to name Aflac a Top 50 Corporation for supplier diversity and another to award us a spot on their top 40 list for diversity several times.
Aside from it just being the right thing to do, there is a strong business case for diversity. In 2010, we unveiled an improved, culturally sensitive Hispanic Web site in hopes of reaching this under-served market. We’re hiring more Hispanic agents to reflect the fastest growing population in America. Our country is diverse, our market is diverse. We welcome these demographic changes with open arms and an eye toward the future
Education: Bachelor’s in Risk Management, University of Georgia
First Job: 1973-1983 – State Sales Coordinator for Aflac
What I’m Reading: Stall Points, by Matthew Olson and Derek van Bever
My Philosophy: In college I heard the fundamental principles of risk management and have always employed them in my personal and business decisions
Best Advice: If you treat your employees well they will take care of your customers and your business
Family: Wife Kathelen, Children Paul II and Lauren
Interests: Family, art, fishing, and UGA football
Favorite Charities: Children’s cancer research and treatment at the Aflac Cancer Center in Atlanta