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Workforce diversity: what is it? What are employers doing to achieve it?

As African Americans, we have long known that racial equality is elusive. With the disturbing beating of Rodney King and the L.A. rebellion following the acquittal of the perpetrators and the increasing cries of reverse discrimination, racial equality is certainly difficult to achieve. Add to these the impact of a severe economic recession with its resulting downsizing and layoffs, and you have a very bleak picture of opportunity in Corporate America. We therefore decided to take an unscientific poll of high profile, highly regarded, equal opportunity employers to get an update on their workforce diversity programs. What follows is their report to you. We asked them to give you a description of their business, define workforce diversity, tell us what they are doing to create a more diverse workforce, and share with us a vision of their workforce for the year 2000 and beyond.

Joe Stepich General Manager of Human Resources Amoco Corporation

Diversity is a priority at Amoco because we believe that people are and will be our major source of competitive advantage. Our vision is to create and sustain a diverse workforce at all levels and engage the full talent, energy, and commitment of all employees in meeting business objectives. In order to achieve this vision, we are working very hard at examining and changing our management practices so that we can create an organizational environment that works naturally for all employees and that encourages and enables employees to give their maximum contribution in meeting the company goals.

We view what we are trying to do regarding diversity as a long-term change process that will include some short-term programs.

Amoco has had a diverse workforce for a long time; however, we have recently focussed attention on diversity issues. Since the late '80s we have encouraged our employees to form employee groups to provide a way for them to network and begin a dialogue with management, if they so choose, on issues and concerns that affect both employees and the company. We now have more than three dozen employee groups, most of which have initiated discussions with management.

In addition to employee groups, a number of business units throughout Amoco have begun education and training related to diversity. In a corporate-wide effort, a corporate Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) was established and is chaired by Amoco's CEO, Larry Fuller, to provide leadership to diversity efforts. The DAC is a widely-diverse group of employees who represent all major organizational units and employee groups, both U.S. and international.

It is both too early and very difficult to identify specific benefits from our diversity efforts. Since we are undergoing a long-term change process, we may not see tangible results for several years. However, we have begun to notice an increase in knowledge, understanding, and awareness among employees who have participated in diversity education.

Like most major corporations, we have had to reduce costs, and that has also meant reducing the size of our workforce. During 1992, we reduced our workforce by approximately 5,000 employees, through a combination of voluntary severances, sale of business units, closure of facilities, and some involuntary terminations. This was a very difficult and emotionally taxing effort. Unfortunately, it was required because of the economic conditions that exist now and that we expect to exist for some time to come.

Even during downsizing, new employees are the life blood of our organization. Therefore, it is essential to continue recruiting and hiring. Although Amoco will be hiring fewer than in previous years, we plan to hire approximately 200 graduates from college campuses across the country. We will also continue hiring students for summer internships and co-ops. In addition, we have continued our support of organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers, National Black MBA Association, and many others. Most importantly, Amoco continues to fund thousands of dollars worth of scholarships to reward and recognize outstanding minority students who are interested in attending college.

As mentioned earlier, creating, sustaining, developing, and fully utilizing a diverse workforce are crucial to our success in the year 2000 and beyond. An important aspect of this vision is the satisfaction of employees who feel they have opportunities for development, challenge, meaningful work and contributions to the company's success.

The corporate Diversity Advisory Council, other similar groups, and members of management will make a big impact, as will education and awareness building for all employees. Amoco's management also has a commitment to examine all elements of our company's environment, management practices, and policies so that any obstacles to achieving our diversity vision can be identified and addressed.

Diversity is a tough issue to tackle because it includes more than just race, gender, religion, ethnic origin or age. Every employee has a diverse background and a diverse set of beliefs. There is no "quick-fix" when dealing with an issue as complex as diversity. Valuing, managing, and supporting a diverse workforce can be done successfully only as a longer-term change process and one that must become the way we do business. The most important thing to remember is that so much of the change is behavioral, which makes it especially difficult because it involves all of us as individuals changing the way we act and work with one another.

Understanding corporate culture can sometimes be difficult for new employees, particularly as corporations today are trying to change their cultures in response to more globalized competition and the changing demographics of the workforce. At Amoco, an outgrowth for those changes is the development of employee networking groups. The groups are helping experienced and new employees alike better understand their working environments and giving them opportunities to keep the company's nose to the grindstone of self-improvement.

The various employee groups don't typically see themselves in adversarial roles against the company, but rather in mutually beneficial roles. The Amoco Black Employee Network's (ABEN) foremost goal "is about helping the company make a profit by showing (management) how the company's business is being either helped or stifled by its use or non-use of African-American employees," Ron Statum, a DAC appointee and chairman of the Black Network, says. "We show them why understanding, supporting, and using the skills of a diverse workforce are business issues."

Although working with the company is certainly a defining role for these employee groups, it has not limited their ability to further their members' career development in other ways, nor does it preclude them from working with the community at large. For example, ABEN is developing a skill bank to inform employees of what skills are needed for various jobs.

Aside from all these activities, the employee groups still generally agree that new employees should join them because, using Statum's words, "they need to understand the dynamics of their working environments and the cultural changes this company is going through." Furthermore, they should also get involved "if they want to help the company understand their culture," he says.

Charles Chapman Vice President, Human Resources Durham County Hospital Corporation

Durham Regional Hospital, a 451-bed community hospital, is the flagship of Durham County Hospital Corporation. A variety of services are provided by this expansive corporation, including a chemical dependency treatment center, school of nursing, extensive outpatient services, a community health center, and emergency medical services for the entire county and surrounding area.

Diversity in the workplace is a top priority at Durham County Hospital Corporation. We aggressively pursue a goal of quality health care, and we believe that the delivery of health care is enhanced through competition, and sensitivity to our patient needs is supported by diversity. Our corporation is made up of 2200 employees, 38 percent of whom are minorities and 84 percent of whom are women. We believe that minorities and women must be represented in all levels and in all operations of our organization. We recently piloted a "Diversity in the Workplace" program with the executive staff with the intent of expanding it throughout the workforce, and the importance of diversity has grown so that it has created an improved and expanded sense of appreciating our differences while continuing our ability to serve the community.

Durham Regional Hospital is unique in its history. It was formed in 1976 when two hospital staffs, one predominantly African-American and one predominantly white, consolidated and moved into a new building on a new site. Since that time the hospital has received tremendous benefits by having a diverse workforce. Included in these are: an improved access to the skills and capabilities available, a positive presence in the community and an increased sensitivity to the cultural, religious, and gender issues that our patients and community encounter.

We think that having such a diverse workforce has helped us to become a leading corporate citizen, playing an important role in the community as a major economic employer and as an example to the community. We also think that having a diverse workforce sends a message to the entire community, saying "We think people should have the opportunity to succeed, and on that road to success, we will judge them on the merit of their performances, not on artificial barriers." Diversity is appreciating and building the racial, gender, social, cultural, and political differences of all people. At Durham Regional Hospital, we think that we're not just a hospital; we're part of the community.

Diversity has been a principle of inclusion in this corporation since our creation, and it will remain so in the years to come. As we approach the year 2000, we will see more changes in health care, population, and available resources. The Research Triangle Park is an attractive site in the country for professionals, and North Carolina is attractive to retirees. As more people move to this area, we will continue to be sensitive to quality of life issues and offer quality health services in response. Our healthcare services will be enhanced by a culturally sensitive delivery and acceptance system, and our health care providers will be able to respond to those cultural sensitivities.

The health care industry is an exciting and changing business. It is one in which women and minorities are needed and welcomed. This industry represents an excellent opportunity for personal and professional growth, and it is a place where young people who pursue health care careers can shine and be stars.

Vaughn D. Bryson President and Chief Executive Officer Eli Lilly and Company

Eli Lilly and Company is a global research-based corporation that develops, manufactures, and markets pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostic products, and animal health products. Founded in 1876, our company markets its products in 106 countries around the world.

At Lilly, not only do we value diversity, but also we see it as a critical to achieving our goals.

As we look at our customers today--and consider their likely profile in the future--we find that they're increasingly diverse. They represent a vast variety of cultures, traditions, beliefs, races, nationalities, skills, experiences, and ages. Only by developing a similar range of diversity within the company can we meet the varied needs of this customer base--and meet them more effectively than our competitors can.

In addition, we believe a diverse work environment is a creative environment where the best solutions bubble to the top. Companies whose work forces are diverse are also companies that attract the brightest and the best new employees. Because these companies welcome--even search out--diversity, they have a much larger pool of talent to draw from. These companies refuse to shrink their talent pool by excluding anyone without reason. Eli Lilly and Company is striving to be just that sort of company. The current economic climate that is affecting nearly every industry does not lessen our commitment to this goal.

In fact, Lilly recently adopted a formal policy stating the value it places on diversity in the workplace.

The first sentence of our diversity policy is disarmingly simple: "Eli Lilly and Company is committed to the creation of a work environment where individual differences among its employees are valued."

Yet, this sentence introduces one of the most far-reaching employee-relations initiatives in Lilly history. With this policy, we have established a clear vision of a more energized workplace.

This vision rejects the "us-versus-them" mentality that's so deeply ingrained in the human psyche. It advocates a "none-of-us-is-as-smart-as-all-of-us" approach described in the guidelines from the policy: "Valuing diversity means that each employee is expected to understand and build upon individual differences, talents, skills, and ideas of other employees as those differences, talents, and ideas relate to age and experience, education and training; function performed within the corporation; gender; lifestyle; race, nationality, or ethnicity; physical or mental abilities; religion."

The principles that inspired this formal statement have been firmly established in the Lilly corporate culture. In fact, the diversity policy may be described best as yet another step in the steady evolution of the basic Lilly values--especially the recognition that employees are the company's most important resources.

During the early years, the Lilly family observed that the company's long-term success depended on top-flight efforts by all employees. As the company grew, its workforce became more diverse. New employees provided the company with additional experience and expertise. The momentum has continued through the years, with initial efforts by the company's human resources organization now being reinforced by a variety of groups and task forces.

One such group is the Diversity Council. We established the group in late 1991 and charged it with planning and guiding the company's initiatives in this area. The council is helping identify needs and recommending programs and procedures to support diversity. It also serves as a resource, advisor, and monitor of efforts throughout the company.

The company's efforts to recruit and retain talented, diverse people are extensive. Essentially, the program starts at the sixth grade level with efforts to interest students in science and science-related careers. Then, we offer summer internships and projects to college students to help them become more familiar with our company as well as the pharmaceutical industry. Lilly is also involved in many different types of community outreach programs.

In addition, special emphasis is given to recruitment and hiring practices and to mentor programs for minority employees to help assure their success at Lilly. Toward that end, the company is conducting diversity awareness training for its recruiters. By the end of this year, nearly 400 in-office recruiters will have received training.

At Lilly, our businesses depend on synergism--that phenomenon that occurs when two or more people achieve a result that neither could have accomplished alone. We believe the probability of synergism happening increases when people work in an environment where the value of differences is recognized. This synergism affects in a positive way our creativity, productivity, and profitability, all of which, in turn, return more value to our customers and shareholders and provide us with a stronger competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

Kenneth R. Lay President Employment Solutions Corporation, an IBM subsidiary

As the company entrusted with coordinating IBM's employee recruitment efforts, Employment Solutions Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM, is keenly aware of the need for, and value of, a very diverse workforce and IBM's commitment to this end.

IBM realizes that diversity brings with it different points of view, including new and fresh approaches to business. Our experience in the employment industry reinforces the fact that workforce diversity becomes a competitive advantage by helping us use the full potential of all employees; it is not merely desirable, but crucial as we head into the extremely competitive business environment of the 21st century.

Employment Solutions, which began operating on January 1, 1992, provides total employment and recruiting solutions to IBM, ranging from identifying and sourcing quality candidates, to managing the total employment process, as well as related consulting services. We also provide these services to other clients.

The job of Employment Solutions is to identify the best sources of candidates for IBM, regardless of race, sex, ethnic or cultural background, or any other attributes that make up the diverse U.S. workforce. In fact, Employment Solutions embraces IBM's definition of diversity to include all the human characteristics that make us unique as individuals. This is in keeping with IBM's basic belief of "Respect for the Individual."

The extent to which individual employees feel valued and respected--in recognition of their distinct attributes, not despite them--contributes to their sense of well-being and ultimately their productivity.

IBM and Employment Solutions recognize diversity as an asset and look for ways to cultivate it within the employment ranks. By addressing the personal and professional needs of employees in all their variation, IBM becomes a more attractive place to work.

I am a former IBM executive who is the president of Employment Solutions. As an African American, I am proud of IBM's heritage as it relates to minorities.

For example, the first women professionals were hired at IBM in the 1930's and the first Black professionals in 1944, with a stated policy of equal pay for equal work. IBM's first written policy on non-discriminatory hiring practices went into effect in 1953 (a decade before the Civil Rights legislation) and resulted in even more qualified minorities and women being brought into IBM.

IBM made the first corporate contribution to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) in 1944 and established the Faculty Fellowship Program in 1964. The latter program has supported nearly 300 faculty members from UNCF colleges who are working toward advanced degrees.

In the early 1970s, IBM provided a number of major grants to help Black colleges secure accreditation for their engineering programs and continues to assist universities in developing computer-related courses. In addition, through its Faculty Loan Program, IBM has lent more than 1,000 employees to educational institutions since 1971, to share their professional experience with students.

Over the past 30 years, IBM's minority population (African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and Native American) has increased from 1.5 percent to more than 18 percent. Approximately one-quarter of all new hires at IBM over the past decade have been minorities.

To increase the number of minority professionals--particularly in science and engineering--IBM launched an executive program in support of minority colleges and universities and is expanding its mentoring programs. These programs are designed to encourage talented students to consider technical careers and assist them as they pursue their degrees.

IBM's commitment to developing and promoting managers from within, coupled with its enlightened hiring practices, has helped build a strong pipeline of minority employees in the middle and senior management ranks over the years.

The increasing numbers of women and minorities in management reflect IBM's commitment to build a fully-qualified executive team that mirrors the diversity of IBM's employee population.

Employment Solutions takes special pride in being able to work with IBM to identify people who reflect a wide range of diversity and have the potential to move into the executive ranks.

Chuck Reid Director of Diversity Kraft General Foods, Inc.

Kraft General Foods, Inc. is the multinational food business of Phillip Morris Companies Inc. With over 2,500 products, KGF is the largest U.S. food manufacturer. The company offers many of America's favorite brands such as KRAFT cheeses, VELVEETA, OSCAR MAYER, MAXWELL HOUSE, JELL-O and POST cereals.

At Kraft General Foods, we define diversity as understanding, respecting, and celebrating our differences. To maintain our leadership position as the nation's largest food company, we will continue to value the new ideas and positive changes that are generated from a diverse workforce.

Valuing diversity in people recognizes, accepts, and supports their differences. Managing workforce diversity at KGF means that we identify and develop the talents of the wide variety of people from all backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. Employees who believe they can meet their personal career objectives while being encouraged to preserve their individuality will have greater commitment to meet our business objectives.

Kraft General Foods has long been committed to the fair treatment of all employees. In January 1992, the Equal Employment Opportunity and Urban Affairs department was renamed to Diversity Management to reflect the growing recognition of valuing people's differences. The diversity training process to heighten awareness began in 1992 and has reached over 6,000 KGF employees.

The recession has not changed KGF's commitment to workforce diversity. In addition, representation of women and minorities within the company's workforce has grown steadily.

Kraft General Foods' workforce will be reflective of the U.S. population. Several activities are under way to support this objective. For instance, KGF has formed a Diversity Policy Council of senior executives to oversee continued improvement of employment, minority vending, and other activities.

KGF has formed regional task forces to address diversity issues locally as well as determine local corporate contributions in the areas of hunger and nutrition, culture and the arts, and education. The company also has an aggressive minority vending program to develop partnerships with minority-owned businesses.

Dr. Robert L. Long Vice President and Director Corporate Services GPU Nuclear Corporation

GPU Nuclear is a subsidiary of the General Public Utilities Corporation, a holding company. GPU Nuclear Corporation was licensed in 1982 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to be the operator of Three Mile Island Units 1 and 2 located in Middletown, Pennsylvania and the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generation Station located in Forked River, New Jersey as well as the Saxton Nuclear Experimental Plant. GPUN's current staff consists of more than 2,400 personnel who are involved full-time in support of nuclear related activities. The staff resources encompass the broad range of engineering, scientific, technical, and business disciplines required for support of nuclear plant operation at Oyster Creek and TMI-1, and for decontamination and cleanup efforts at the TMI-2 and Saxton facilities.

At GPU Nuclear, valuing diversity is a business imperative. Our goal is to engage the full potential of all employees in creating an environment in which employees support one another, as well as one that respects and values individual differences and similarities. Since its beginning, GPU Nuclear has been committed to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action. This commitment is reflected in our policies, practices, and corporate goals. Our continued success depends heavily on the full and effective utilization of all qualified persons. Managing diversity is an essential goal of the company for it is through diversity that employees become empowered to achieve their fullest potential and help shape our company in ways that will make it a more successful organization.

Within the past three years the company has made significant strides towards Diversity Management by the formation of diversity committees throughout the organization. Members of the committees represent a cross-section of employee groups and functional areas. The responsibilities of the committees include shaping the company's policies to ensure a diverse workforce, identifying techniques, strategies, and methods for strengthening Affirmative Action efforts and implementing those actions which will support or enhance GPU Nuclear's commitment to Diversity Management. The formation of these committees represents forward thinking that has helped foster equality within our organization. Members of the committees serve as important agents of change by functioning as organizational champions in initiating and coordinating diversity related activities and programs.

In 1991 the GPU System took steps to implement a strategic diversity management program by hiring a senior manager whose responsibilities include shaping our Company's policies to ensure a diverse workforce and empower all employees to achieve their fullest potential.

Like most of corporate America, we have been reducing costs by streamlining work plans, right-sizing staffing levels and increasing management spans of control throughout the organization. Thus there are fewer opportunities to bring new personnel into the organization.

However, with respect to our college recruiting efforts, GPU Nuclear has an intensive College Recruiting Program to fill entry-level professional positions in engineering. Each year an average of 6 to 10 college graduates are hired directly through our On-Campus Recruiting Program. To compete for quality graduates, the company has developed a long-standing working relationship with the alumni from various universities and colleges. The GPU Nuclear College Recruiting Program has proven to be an excellent source in hiring high quality entry-level engineering professionals. To supplement our On-Campus program, we actively participate in the following activities:

* US Black Engineer of the Year Conference

* National Society of Black Engineers Conference

* Society of Women Engineers Conference

* Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Conference

We predict that GPU Nuclear's workforce by the year 2000 will grow slowly, become older, more female, and require a much higher skill level than today's workforce. GPU Nuclear is addressing many of these proposals through its Diversity Program; addressing these issues now will help ensure the company's survival and continued success into the '90s and beyond. GPU Nuclear is addressing these predictions by:

* Developing a Diversity Skill Building program that will be offered to all employees in order to raise awareness and sensitivity.

* Adopting the management philosophy of W. Edwards Deming to improve our overall performance.

* Continuous development and enhancements to existing employee development programs and performance management/reward systems, which foster a diverse workforce.

* Recruiting minorities, women, and physically challenged people through a variety of internships and programs, including Inroads.

* Being proactive in initiating and coordinating diversity programs, such as elder care, dependent care, community outreach and mentoring programs such as the University of Virginia Project View.

* Making executives accountable for developing and attaining a diverse workforce.

GPU Nuclear's current dedication and commitment to Diversity Management will help ensure that our future workforce is diverse, productive, and successful.

Lloyd Trotter President and CEO GE Electrical and Distribution Control

GE traces its beginnings to Thomas A. Edison, who established the Edison Electric Light Company in 1878. In 1892, a merger of the Edison General Electric Company and the Thomason-Houston Electric Company created the General Electric Company. In 1986, GE merged with RCA.

GE is a diversified technology, manufacturing, and service company with a commitment to achieving worldwide leadership in each of its 13 major businesses: aerospace, aircraft engines, broadcasting (NBC), electrical distribution equipment, electric motors, financial services, industrial and power systems, information services, lighting, locomotives, major appliances, medical systems, and plastics.

GE has defined diversity as a two-fold concept. First, diversity concerns understanding that the workforce will increasingly include people who are different. Consistent with this change is the recognition that a mix of people who are diverse can result in value added and increased productivity. Secondly, we define diversity as a comprehension process for developing and maintaining a workplace environment that results in the full utilization of all employees.

Diversity receives priority attention at GE because we see it as critical to our competitiveness in both domestic and global markets. Our vision is to be a world leader in each of our 12 businesses. Getting there or staying there requires the active participation of our entire workforce. The creativity, and innovation, that comes from our diversity is clearly a competitive advantage for GE.

Diversity is also a priority because GE's values make it so. Specifically, our Company values call for our leaders to be open to ideas from everyone, to empower others and not tolerate boundaries that limit the contributions of women and minorities. As a company that is increasingly reliant on teams, our values also demand that our leaders have the ability to develop diverse and global teams and be capable of managing the contributions of everyone on the team. The combination of these values is good news for all employees.

Although the Company is not new to diversity, we have had a formal program in place for almost two years. The benefits of our more formal approach to diversity has been dramatic in may respects. The number of entry-level African Americans recruited and hired has increased by over 10 percent since 1982 and an increasing number have moved into positions of significant responsibility. I think that my promotion to President and CEO of the GE Electrical and Distribution Control business and the fact that the senior human resources executive on my staff is also African-American clearly demonstrate GE's commitment to diversity. In addition to the increased representation of women and minorities at all levels, we also see the continued growth of a diversity friendly culture at GE. Thanks to extensive training and communications initiatives, we are all learning to better value differences and use those differing perspectives in our problem-solving and decision-making. The Company's focus on diversity has also reinforced our efforts to promote leaders able to develop and lead high performance multicultural teams. Diversity is helping us become more competitive than ever.

The recession has had little impact on our diversity efforts. In spite of cutbacks in some of our businesses, we have established diversity manager positions in each of our businesses and committed the necessary resources to move the diversity agenda forward. Although we have reduced the total number of hires, we have been able to increase the overall representation of women and minorities at all levels and in every business.

We are committed to making GE a world of opportunity for all of our employees. By the year 2000, the product of these efforts will give us not only a more diverse workforce, but also a company that is one of the most dynamic and competitive enterprises in the world.
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Title Annotation:Annual Jobs Issue; seven companies describe their equal opportunity programs
Author:Stepich, Joe; Chapman, Charles; Bryson, Vaughn; Lay, Kenneth R.; Reid, Chuck; Long, Robert L.; Trott
Publication:The Black Collegian
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Words:4852
Previous Article:Expanding the circle of inclusion for African Americans with disabilities.
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