UPS has had a strong commitment to volunteer service and charitable giving for decades. That dedication is evident in the 111-year-old company’s culture and its foundation (see the sidebar). It also extends to UPS’s more than 454,000 employees worldwide. In 2017, in total, they volunteered 2.9 million hours, and they’re nearly 80 percent of the way toward fulfilling the company’s pledge to contribute 20 million service hours by 2020.
The members of the company’s legal department are no exception. The team seems to attract lawyers with an affinity for investing in others and working to make a difference in the communities they serve. This is certainly the case with Stephanie Driggers, UPS’s global litigation counsel.
She has a long history of being involved in activities that impact women and children, including trips with the International Justice Mission to Cambodia and Thailand to address human trafficking issues, pro bono services for victims of domestic violence, and additional pro bono work on juvenile justice issues. She is also a former board member of Quality Care for Children, which addresses nutrition and early childhood education. Within UPS, she’s also a member of the pro bono committee and chairs the company’s Women’s Leadership Development (WLD) business resource group, where she simultaneously encourages others to donate their time and helps support women at the company.
“I’ve always been passionate about helping women achieve their professional potential,” Driggers says. “They’re an integral part of diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace, but women can also experience unique challenges that need to be addressed.”
She notes, for example, that the corporate environment is different from that found in law firms, where associates come in with a class of peers who provide a ready-made support network. “At UPS, we built structures that help women find peers, mentors, and sponsors to help champion their careers from inside and outside the company,” Driggers says. “The initiatives help us attract, retain, and promote women in the corporate setting.”
These support networks are rounded out by relationships with other lawyers and partners in various pro bono settings. Driggers and her team members participate in programs such as the Pro Bono Check-Up, delivered through the Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta. Relying on the expertise of lawyers from law firms and corporate legal teams, the program reviews legal issues for nonprofit organizations so that they can devote their funds to their core missions, not to paying for legal services.
Driggers and her team have also volunteered with MedShare, a program that collects and sorts donated medical supplies and equipment for communities in need around the world. In addition to providing labor at MedShare’s warehouse, UPS provides logistics and transportation support to deliver donated items.
“There are benefits to all sides from this kind of volunteerism,” Driggers says. “Aside from simply being the right thing to do, we get an opportunity to understand a wide range of global community needs and, simultaneously, do good by connecting with our core competencies as a company.”
Outside partners that Driggers works with have been impressed with how such experiences have informed her day-to-day work, too. “Stephanie is not your everyday litigator,” says Wendy Johnson Lario, a shareholder and the chair of the New Jersey labor and employment practice at Greenberg Traurig LLP. “She is a change-maker and a force to be reckoned with. She also challenges her teams, internally and externally, to think outside the box and develop creative approaches to litigation, settlement, and ultimately the correction of the underlying circumstances that instigated the litigation in the first place.”
As part of her leadership of WLD, Driggers helped the group celebrate its ten-year anniversary as UPS’s first affinity group by revising its mission statement and developing a five-year plan that will help the company achieve its aspirational goals related to workforce diversity. At the same time, she took the somewhat revolutionary step of increasing men’s involvement with the group. Its leadership team is now 20 percent male, with more men acting as mentors and leading and participating in lean-in circles. One male participant, a colleague of Driggers’s named Adam Briggs, chairs a committee on engagement and leads focus groups that help deliver feedback directly to HR regarding employee retention and promotion.
“It’s wonderful to see men with wives and daughters get involved and to hear how passionate they are about women’s issues,” Driggers says. “They genuinely want to make a difference, and we’re able to accomplish more because we’re working together.”
In addition to a natural sensitivity toward injustice and a desire to fight it, Driggers’s activities are highly informed by her mother, who went back to college when Driggers was in middle school. She then taught for years before becoming an elementary school principal. From her example, Driggers learned the importance of women being able to take care of themselves. “My mother inspires me to make sure that women have a seat at the table and that their voices are being heard,” she says.
Driggers now has three daughters of her own. She hopes that the example she sets through her volunteer efforts will inspire similar dedication in her children. “Whenever I volunteer, I’m always impressed by the people who devote their lives to helping others,” Driggers says. “And I always learn something new from the bravery and resilience I see in the communities we’re serving.”
Building on a Strong Foundation
The UPS Foundation was established in 1951 by the company’s founder, Jim Casey. It utilizes employees’ activities, the company’s logistics expertise and assets, and charitable donations to make meaningful differences around the world. This is accomplished through cash grants, in-kind support, and what the company refers to as “passionate volunteers.”
In 2017, the foundation donated $118.3 million in philanthropic contributions and provided another $60.9 million in charitable giving to more than 4,300 organizations in more than 170 countries. It focuses its funding on causes surrounding diversity and inclusion, environmental sustainability, volunteerism, and community safety.
Some of its signature programs in these areas include: the UPS Forestry Initiative, a global network to plant, protect, and preserve trees to offset carbon emissions and reduce air pollution, with a pledge to plant fifteen million trees by 2020; the UPS Humanitarian Relief & Resilience Program, devoted to strengthening global disaster preparedness, emergency response, and post-crisis recovery; and local community investment grants that are determined by each UPS region, district, and business unit.
The company also has a longstanding partnership with the United Way. The foundation participates in the annual fundraising campaign by matching employee contributions. Since 1982, employees and the foundation have donated more than $1.3 billion.
UPS partner Greenberg Traurig (GT) has a global labor & employment practice that serves clients from offices throughout the US, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Members of the practice are frequently called upon to handle complex, bet-the-company, high-stake cases, including class and collective actions, and they have a record of successfully defending and winning numerous trials. GT brings the same level of expertise and efficiency to single-plaintiff litigation and agency actions. Its team’s sophisticated advisors also provide strategic insight on policies, training, and preventative workplace initiatives. GT designs practical, proactive strategies that can be readily implemented by today’s legal departments and human resources professionals. The firm has been recognized by The Legal 500 United States in the areas of labor and employment litigation, labor-management relations, workplace and employment counseling, ERISA litigation, and trade secrets litigation.
King & Spalding:
“King & Spalding congratulates Stephanie Driggers on her well-deserved recognition from Modern Counsel for her work as global litigation counsel for UPS. Stephanie is an innovative leader who implements cutting-edge but practical strategies in her management of litigation.”
—Ronni Solomon, Partner