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Economy

Regions joins group focused on diversity and inclusion

Eddie Burkhalter

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Regions Bank recently announced that the Fortune 500 company has joined a list of corporations and universities that pledge to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

Birmingham-based Regions in June became the first financial institution in Alabama to join with the coalition CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, which runs the program. 

Regions president John Turner in statement on Business Wire on June 20 said that the beast teams are diverse and inclusive. 

“Diversity and inclusion are not only fundamental to our corporate strategy; Regions truly values and benefits from the diversity of its associates, customers and the communities we serve,” Turner said. 

The more than 750 CEOs who have signed the pledge work in more than 85 industries in all 50 states, according to the nonprofit. 

Pledging CEOs promise to: 

  1. Continue to cultivate a workplace that supports open dialogue on diversity and inclusion
  2. Implement and expand unconscious bias educational trainings
  3. Share best practices – and lessons learned – with the collective business community
  4. Create and share strategic inclusion and diversity plans with board of directors. 

Tim Ryan, U.S. chairman and senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, first proposed the idea for CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion in 2016 after a series of police shootings of black men in the U.S., according to Fortune Magazine. Those shootings prompted Ryan to start a dialogue in his own company about race and diversity, then spread those conversations to CEO’s across the country through the nonprofit. 

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About 78 percent of CEO’s who responded to an end-of-year survey said the program had a positive impact on their companies’ diversity and inclusion, According to Fortune magazine

Regions is joined in the program by two other Alabama-based companies — Vulcan Materials Company and Protective Life Corporation — as well as The University of Alabama. 

Regions in 2018 created a new role when the company hired Clara Green as head of diversity and inclusion, and in January, the company was named among the top 250 companies in Forbes Magazine’s Best Employers for Diversity list, which ranked companies through anonymous surveys to American workers. 

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Evelyn Mitchell, senior vice president of media relations and issues management at Regions, in an email to APR on Monday wrote that the bank had diversity and inclusion programs in place for some time before signing on to the pledge. 

“However, we are expanding our focus on this area both internally and externally,” Mitchell said. 

Some of the work Regions has already done include the introduction of an expanded diversity and Inclusion internal training program, the launch an internal program meant to create a dialogue on diversity called “Conversations with Clara” and work meant to create pathways to attract, develop and retain diverse talent. 

“This also includes creating a platform to expand our reach to other diverse populations, such as veterans and those that are differently-abled,” Mitchell said. 

“We’re inspired by all CEOs who have taken the pledge and want to advance diversity and inclusion in their organizations,” wrote JC Lapierre,  CEO Action strategy leader, in an email to APR on Monday.

Now in its third year, the program continues to develop ways to engage the partnering CEOs and drive meaningful progress on diversity and inclusion issues, Lapierre wrote, including:

  • A peer network of nearly 2,000 CEOs and C-suite leaders that engage in shared learning of ideas and challenges.
  • Creation of free strategic resources and a public database of more than 700 examples of signatory programs and initiatives.
  • Hosting the largest conversation about bias and understanding in the workplace, engaging more than 615,000 signatory employees around the world.
  • Expanded the reach of unconscious bias education in our workplaces and communities through the Check Your Blind Spots tour. An immersive, tech-enabled nationwide unconscious bias educational tour, it has reached tens of thousands of people and inspired them to personally act on inclusion.

The  coalition is currently in the process of planning a third CEO closed-door session, to take place in November in New York City.

“This annual gathering is an opportunity for CEOs to identify short and long-term actions that they can achieve within their own organizations and as a collective to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace,” Lapierre wrote.

As companies and universities look to address matters of race, sexual orientation, age and gender identity in their hiring and promotion practices and interactions with customers, some state governments don’t seem to accurately represent the people that they represent. 

The National Conference of State Legislatures and the Pew Charitable Trusts in a joint 2015 report found that women made up 14 percent of the Alabama’s legislators, while females made up about half of the state’s population. Alabama tied with South Carolina in that statistic. 

Only three other contiguous U.S. states had fewer female legislators in 2015, which were Louisiana, Oklahoma and Wyoming. 

White lawmakers made up 75 percent of Alabama’s Legislature in 2015, according to the report, while 24 percent were black, which was higher than the national average of 8 percent.

 

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected]lreporter.com or reach him via Twitter.

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Economy

Governor announces auto supplier IAC plans Alabama expansion

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday that International Automotive Components Group North America Inc. plans to invest over $55.9 million in expansion projects that will create 182 jobs at two Alabama facilities.

“International Automotive Components is a leading global auto supplier, and I am pleased that this world-class company is growing significantly in Alabama and creating good jobs in Cottondale and Anniston,” Ivey said. “IAC’s growth plans show that Alabama’s dynamic auto industry continues to expand despite today’s challenging environment.”

Nick Skwiat is the executive vice president and president of IAC North America.

“Alabama was the logical choice due to its skilled workforce and proximity to the customer,” Skwiat said. “We are excited to see the continued growth of the automotive industry in Alabama and we plan to grow right along with it. We thank the Governor and Secretary Canfield for their leadership in this sector.”

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County. This facility will produce door panels and overhead systems for original equipment manufacturers. That project will create 119 jobs at the production site in Cottondale.

IAC also plans to invest $21.6 million at its manufacturing facility located in the former Fort McClellan in Anniston. That East Alabama project will create another 63 jobs.

This project builds on a milestone 2014 expansion that doubled the size of the Calhoun County facility. There IAC manufactures automotive interior components and systems. Key components produced at the Anniston plant include door panels, trim systems and instrument panels for original equipment manufacturers.

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IAC Group is a leading global supplier of innovative and sustainable instrument panels, consoles, door panels, overhead systems, bumper fascias and exterior ornamentation for original equipment manufacturers.

IAC is headquartered in Luxembourg and has more than 18,000 employees at 67 locations in 17 countries. The company operates manufacturing facilities in eight U.S. states.

“With operations around the globe, IAC is the kind of high-performance company that we want in Alabama’s auto supply chain to help fuel sustainable growth,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “We look forward to working with IAC and facilitating its future growth in this strategic industrial sector.”

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Danielle Winningham is the executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.

“International Automotive Components is a valued part of Tuscaloosa County’s automotive sector,” Winningham said. “We are grateful for IAC’s investment in our community and the career opportunities available to our area workforce as a result of their investment.”

“The City of Anniston is excited that IAC has made the decision to expand here. I have enjoyed working with the leadership at IAC, the Calhoun County EDC, and the state of Alabama to get this project finalized,” said Anniston Mayor Jack Draper. “This is even further evidence that Anniston is indeed open for business.”

Only Michigan has more automobile manufacturing jobs than the state of Alabama. Honda, Mercedes, Hyundai, Polaris, Toyota and soon Mazda all have major automobile assembly plants in the state of Alabama.

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Courts

Aderholt fully supports Barrett’s confirmation process

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Robert Aderholt

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, updated his constituents on the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Aderholt said, “I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms.”

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

“Senate Democrats are not seriously questioning Judge Barrett on her credentials, instead they have decided to attack her character and her beliefs,” Aderholt said. “I am disappointed to see this unfold on the national stage, but I think Judge Barrett stood strong and did well during this first week of hearings.”

“While I do not have a vote in her confirmation process, I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms when she is officially sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Aderholt said.

Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate, has served on the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals and is a former clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate,” Barrett said. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

Barrett vowed to keep an open mind on any matter that comes before the court, though Democrats fear she is prepared to overturn Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.

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That the Republican controlled committee will recommend that Barrett be confirmed appears certain. A vote to confirm Barrett to the nation’s highest court by the full Senate could occur just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump has been the president of the United States for less than four years but if Barrett is confirmed, then he will have selected one third of the U.S. Supreme Court. Barrett fills a place created by the death of the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors in the Nov. 3 general election.

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Economy

New unemployment claims increased last week

More people joined the unemployment rolls last week than the week before.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There were 8,581 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, up from 7,732 filed the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. 

Of the claims filed between Oct. 4 and Oct. 10, there were 3,125 related to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s 36 percent, compared to 51 percent the previous week.

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Economy

Governor announces $1.5 million grant to expand job training at Bevill State Community College

The expanded facility will help train people in welding and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning and other trades. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Kay Ivey and the Appalachian Regional Commission this week announced a $1.5 million grant to renovate and expand a training facility at Bevill State Community College. 

The expanded facility will help train people in welding and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning and other trades. 

“Alabamians are eager to work, and we are eager for them to find jobs that will allow them to earn a good living,” Ivey said in a statement. “These funds will help more Alabamians answer the call to the state’s increasing demand for jobs in these fields. I am thankful for our partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission and the assistance they have provided in helping us respond to in-demand issues.”

The grant comes from Appalachian Regional Commission’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization initiative, which targets areas affected by the closing of coal mining and coal-related industries, according to a press release from Ivey’s office. 

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the ARC program in Alabama.

“This grant is a shot in the arm for an Alabama economy that has maintained its poise during the cessation of coal industries and then the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” ADECA director Kenneth Boswell said in a statement. “ADECA is pleased to join with Gov. Ivey, ARC, Bevill State Community College and many other partners in this life-changing program.”

Dr. Chris Cox, Bevill State interim president, said the program will allow for scholarships for workers who lost jobs in coal-related industries.

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“This rapid training center expansion will help establish a career pipeline to support local manufacturing industries, will serve to diversify the region’s economy and will increase post-secondary students’ access to advanced training and completion of industry-recognized certifications,” Cox said in a statement.

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