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How 3 Memphis Companies Are Making Diversity and Inclusion a Priority

by Ted Evanoff, Desiree Stennett and Max Garland

Published 03-09-20

Submitted by International Paper Company

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Originally published by The Commercial Appeal

When Fred Towler was tapped to lead diversity and inclusion efforts for International Paper in November 2018, he didn’t have formal human resources training. Instead, his 30 years with the company had been on the operations side.

Towler was hired in 1987 to work as an information technology analyst.

“If we were going to invest in a new technology, I had to work with the organization to understand the value and justify the value around it and also ensure that we were getting the value as well,” Towler said.

Since then he has worked in just about every department at International Paper — finance, manufacturing, sales and marketing, general management, distribution and, most recently, supply chain.

Still, his new role as chief diversity officer is different. His first step to get ready for it was to talk to people.

“I spent a lot of time talking to our employees,” he said. “Largely because we are a multinational organization, diversity means something different for everybody in every corner of the globe where we operate,” Towler said.

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International Paper Company

International Paper Company

International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a leading global producer of renewable fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper products with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, Europe, North Africa and Russia. We produce corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods, and enable world-wide commerce; pulp for diapers, tissue and other personal hygiene products that promote health and wellness; and papers that facilitate education and communication. We are headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., employ approximately 48,000 colleagues and serve more than 25,000 customers in 150 countries. Net sales for 2020 were $21 billion. For more information about International Paper, our products and global citizenship efforts, please visit internationalpaper.com.

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