“… We’ve been one of the best places for African Americans. We’ve been one of the best places for women… “
For Dan Amos, Aflac is all in the family. As the chairman and CEO of Aflac, the Georgia-based medical insurance provider, Amos worked his way up through the company and wasn’t given any preferential treatment as he crafted his skills in risk management and helped grow the company what it is today—a billion dollar megaforce in healthcare.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or don’t have a television and even then it would seem unfathomable, you’ve definitely seen the commercial for Aflac with the white duck that screams “AFLAC!!!!” to unsuspected people talking about insurance. Founded in 1955, today Aflac is a Fortune 500 company that provides financial protection to more than 50 million people worldwide.
“The family started the business and I majored in risk management and insurance at the University of Georgia in business school,” said Amos. “I came in as an independent contractor and a salesperson and was there for ten years. I felt like having a job that was objective oriented versus subjective—so you could could see how I would do.” The sales spoke for themselves, starting out with $600,000 in sales when he first started and building it to $11 million in his last year as a salesperson. In 1982 he was offered the opportunity to become president of the company and then became CEO in 1990 at 39 when his uncle John Amos passed away.
“I think one of the reasons it’s done so well is I’ve had the ability to hire good people and they help build the company and my family always said that if you hire the right people and you treat them right they’ll treat the company right,” insists Amos. “That’s always worked very well for us and it’s not coincidental because we work hard at this, at being one of the best places to work in America the past twenty years.”
What makes Aflac so great is its commitment to diversity, a point not lost on Amos. “We’ve been one of the best places for Hispanics to work. We’ve been one of the best places for African Americans. We’ve been one of the best places for women. We do a conscientious effort to try and make sure that employees are happy because we don’t sell a tangible product, we sell a promise on a piece of paper. The ability of our employees to communicate who we are and what we do is very important in the overall success or failure of our company and I give them a lot of the credit for that success.
“My general counsel for the corporation who is one of my right hand people is an African American female. My head of U.S. operations is an African American female. My head of public relations is a female. My head of IT is a female. My chief accounting officer is a female and the list goes on in the depth chart throughout this company.”
The company’s commitment to equality did not go unnoticed. In 2012, Amos accepted the “Salute to Greatness” award from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta. The award is is one of the King Center’s highest honors and recognizes those who have demonstrated a commitment to the principles and philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was established and awarded for the first time in 1983 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King. In 2016, Aflac was also the first corporation to donate $1 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., as part of its diversity initiatives.
In addition to having four women on the Aflac board, giving back to the community is a big part of the Aflac ethos. “We have given back to the community with the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and it’s the largest pediatric cancer center in America,“ said Amos. “We donated 100-125 million to it. And of that it’s not just the company giving. I think over 60% of it has been given by our employees and sales force.”
So we had to ask about the duck, one of the most well-known instantly recognizable branding mascots in business today that made its debut in a commercial on January 1, 2000. The duck has become an ambassador of the Aflac brand. Why a duck?
“It was a big move,” insists Amos. “One of the things we found was it resonated with people. It was very memorable and it just lightened up what was a stodgy industry that no one ever really understood. We just tried to create a brand by opening the door with the duck then our agents and associates come in and they make the presentation explaining why you need our coverage. It’s worked very well for us. And we actually took it to Japan and it’s been very successful.”
As the old saying goes, if it quacks like a duck… you’re growing success.