Ramona Hood is president and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical®, a leading North American transportation provider located in Green, Ohio. The company provides a range of transportation capabilities for expedite ground, temperature control shipments, and industry specific solutions. The company provides 24/7 service throughout the United States, Canada, and internationally, delivering hundreds of thousands of shipments per year.
President & CEO, FED EX Custom Critical
“…A Power Woman is someone who is authentic and intentionally creates a pathway for others.”
In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman?”
A Power Woman is someone who is authentic and intentionally creates a pathway for others. Authenticity is important because you should always show up and be yourself even when it gets hard to do so. It is important as a leader to be courageous and bold enough to create a path for others that is smoother for those who follow you. You are the first, but you don’t want to be last, and you uplift others by showing them your true self 100% of the time.
Do you believe that there is a gender specific role for women to play in the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you believe the response to the COVID-19 pandemic highlights & emphasizes the natural resilience of women?
Globally, we have had to come together during such an unprecedented time to support one another. As leaders, we have had to provide a level of understanding for team members, friends, customers and just about anyone we deal with on a daily basis. It is no longer outside of the norm to hear the dog barking in the background or the kids playing in the other room.
Specifically, as women, we are naturally empathetic and graceful. Those traits have suited us well during the global pandemic and as leaders. We have the grace to understand our new reality and we empathize with those around us who are in unfavorable situations, which has quite honestly been all of us at some point.
But, when we think about how the pandemic has affected women, according to a NY Times article, since the start of the pandemic, 56% of American women are working for the lowest level of pay since 1986. Additionally, the pandemic created, what the NY Times calls, a child-care crisis, which forced women to make the decision to leave the workforce and stay home more compared to our male counterparts. We see more women beginning to return back to work, but the question can be asked, how do we ensure we don’t take one step forward just to take a couple steps back?
With all the different issues one could focus on, how do you balance your efforts in pursuit of gender equality? Is it a global approach or specific issue that you are passionate about?
It is a personal priority and passion for me to focus on gender equality. I am raising two Black daughters and I want them to be in an environment where there aren’t barriers because of the color of their skin or their gender.
What do you think is the number one action we as a society can toward empowering women and gender equality?
There are several actions we can take as society to empower women. A couple tangible actions are calling out inequalities and ensuring there are processes in place that incorporate equity and inclusion. As a woman in the trucking industry, which historically has been a male-dominated industry, I am very familiar with the conversation around how to create a more inclusive and equitable environment.
Our society should provide guidance and mentorship as women navigate challenges, and also provide opportunity. In my industry, Women in Trucking is an organization that really focuses on getting women in the logistics space. Women are drivers, CEOs, and C-suite in transportation and logistics companies. It’s important to be intentional about these efforts.
Can you tell us a short story in which you encountered a block due to your gender?
It was not a block, but there was a situation where I was invited to join a board to bring some diversity. The board of directors consisted of all men. When I first joined, the men felt the need to censor themselves because I was in the room which in turn made me feel like I did not belong. Shortly after, I shared my expectations of it being an inclusive environment and have seen improvement.
Do you think that asking previous salary requirements in job interviews contributes to the pay gap between women and men?
Doing the same thing but expecting different results was Einstein’s definition of insanity. There is a known gender pay gap and using historical pay data to determine compensation for a job does not fix the issue.
There are many studies that support the idea that a female presence in the boardroom increases the bottom line and leads to a healthier work environment. What can we do to continue to support and enhance the growth and presence of women in high profile positions?
According to the McKinsey study, “Why Diversity Matters,” companies that are more diverse are more likely to be above average in financial return. But, how do we get diverse candidates in those seats?
When we talk about diversity, part of being intentional starts at the very beginning when you are looking at candidates for positions. To really be intentional, you need to have a diverse slate to consider. I also believe it is important that your decision makers have a level of diversity. We all have biases, so if your interview panel is not diverse, then chances are they are going to feel very comfortable selecting applicants that look like them.
Once you make decisions and hire diverse candidates, you then need to be intentional about inclusion. As a large organization with the tenure that we have, we have to be mindful of welcoming different ideas so people feel included and their thoughts welcomed.
Was there a defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are today? What was it?
I think there were impactful chapters; my childhood, early career moments, middle management roles while raising my daughters and going back to school. The constant during those defining moments was having a good support system. This included family, friends and my board of directors (coaches, mentors and sponsors). Their guidance, advocacy and providing a listening ear inspires me to be my authentic self.
Have you seen changes in the political landscape for women over the past few years? If so, what were they?
Women are highly engaged and are running for office and turning out to vote to shape our government.
In the U.S., we had more women including of color run for office during the 2018 midterm. This included historical changes leading up to the first woman vice-president, Kamala Harris. In general, there were major strides across all levels of government by women turning out to vote.
Is “Education, education and education” once of the top three responsibilities one of the top three responsibilities of a civilized society?
Education is important, but I think it is even more important to understand there are some experiences that are just as important if not more important than institutional education. The growth and development that comes from some real-world experiences is something that cannot be taught. Additionally, institutional education is pertinent, but the real test is knowing when and how to apply it when the time comes.
If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why?
I would choose to be Oprah Winfrey because of the size of her platform and the impact she has made.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I was appointed president and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical in January 2020, and I received great advice in the form of a question – What do you want your legacy to be? I spent several weeks thinking through my response and putting it to paper, which then became my CEO Intent. It is my North Star to leave the organization in a better place through my leadership.
What is your favorite book?
We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated and True by Gabrielle Union. I am a fan of her honesty and vulnerability about her flaws and mistakes.
What do you most value in your friends?
I value our low maintenance relationship. We are all very busy, and even though we may not talk every day or even every week, we show up for each other when it matters most. From celebrations to those not so good moments, we are there for each other and have true sincere feelings for one another.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I believe self-control can be overrated in certain situations. We are taught to bite our tongues and hold back, but there are certain situations where we shouldn’t be even-tempered and speak up.