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Driving Inclusion and Belonging at Crowley

In recognition of Crowley’s LGBTQ+ employees and community, we are passing the microphone to a voice positively influencing a culture of belonging.

We sat down with Shannon Sarkees, Director of Sustainability, to learn about her near-decade-long journey at Crowley. She shared the value she places on showing up authentically as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a mentee, a mentor and a leader, the progress in our organization and industry in prioritizing the creation of a culture of belonging for all and her vision for where we still need to go — together.

Shannon’s Journey

Shannon Sarkees (she/her)

I chose a career in transportation and logistics, knowing how impactful our industry is on global connectivity, sustainability and improving people’s quality of life. As optimistic as I was and still am, finding my place within my field has also come with its challenges. However, with every challenge comes the opportunity for change.

The Early Days

One day, I distinctly remember seeing an email promoting an upcoming event. It was for our business resource group (BRG) called Stronger Together: LGBTQ+ Alliance. It changed my entire day and every day since. Up until that point, I hadn’t given myself the chance to grow and blossom authentically into a full member of the Crowley community. I realized that there’s more to a job than coming in and sitting at your desk. There is more I can contribute if I am open with who I am as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. I discovered there is an entire culture of people here with whom I can grow relationships and learn from.

Since joining the BRG steering committee in a role supporting corporate citizenship and sustainability, its mission and purpose have been incredibly close to my heart. My work with the committee has allowed me to see that belonging looks different for every individual and that we should aim to hold the door open for all employees, regardless of how they identify. I hope that others reading this may have my same realization and experience.

For Pride month this year, I had the opportunity to travel to Orlando with several colleagues to volunteer for the LGBTQ+ Unity Summit and hear about the need for education on the LGBTQ+ movement. In attending events like this, I’ve found the strength to put myself out there and feed my desire to grow personally. Knowing that there is a supportive outlet to speak about my experiences and attend community-centered events has given me the courage to be my authentic self at work. Everyone deserves to have that. 

Blossoming Belonging Through Mentorship

Over my time at Crowley, I’ve evolved and found my voice by watching other strong trailblazers — particularly women — lead by example and create change.

I’ve also been very lucky to have many mentors along the way. They have taken me under their wing and encouraged me to be authentic in the workplace. Cole Van Gundy, one of my mentors who I’ve been working with for the last two years, has always made a point to encourage me to, in his words, “fill the void.” I have always understood that to mean that if I see an issue, I can be part of creating the solution. I’m grateful to have this leadership to be so confident in my ability to make a difference and bring others along for the ride.

Cole Van Gundy –
Vice President, Engineering

“Shannon continues to grow as an individual and a leader. I am particularly proud of her evolution at Crowley as she continues to rise to the occasion and better our company culture. She is always true to herself and positively impacts those around her. Shannon brings her passion, drive and authenticity to work — accelerating her growth as a leader and individual. She has motivated leaders and taught them just as much, if not more than, she has learned from them.”

I’ve since taken on the role of mentor, and I’ve also found that learning goes both ways. I’m not there to just impart my knowledge onto someone. I am there to encourage them to bring things that are challenging them so we can share our different perspectives and learn from each other. I really value the ability to be open and honest in mentee relationships to create meaningful spaces for connection and development.

Continuing to Chart the Course of Inclusivity and Sustainability

The Crowley I know today is much more developed in our approach to inclusion. While we still have more progress to make, we are all taking the necessary steps to create a place and a field where people want to belong. It’s important for Crowley to carry the torch of inclusive practices so we can influence the culture of belonging throughout our industry and change it for the better for the next generation for leaders.

From my vantage point as a leader in sustainability, I see Crowley integrating sustainability into our business practices through a commitment to sustaining our people. Our hope is that we create an environment that our people take pride in so that the energy of belonging translates to customers at every step of the supply chain. It’s both a challenge and an honor to be a voice sustainability and hold our organization accountable for our role in creating progress.

When I think about the path ahead, I ask myself: “How can I contribute to creating an environment of intentional inclusivity where everyone is allowed to bring their authentic selves to work?”. I believe that if we all look within ourselves and consider this, we will continue to build an even stronger and more welcoming environment in the workplace, industry and beyond.

We are committed to growing the leadership and development of our people within the organization. Our goal is to foster a culture that is honest to our values and champions diversity of experiences and inclusion of perspectives while encouraging innovation. We have many career opportunities where your skills, knowledge and experiences can Carry The World. Forward.