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Diversity in Action

Rockwell Collins expects great results from new strategy

The company's CEO is also its chief diversity officer. A big part of the plan is a special training program for 1,200-plus company leaders

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Andy Day: "We look for increased performance at all levels every year."

Andy Day: "We look for increased performance at all levels every year."

Founded in 1933 as Collins Radio Co, Rockwell Collins today serves commercial and government customers worldwide. The company operates seventy-plus locations in twenty-seven countries, and makes aviation electronics and communication solutions.

Andy Day, Rockwell Collins' staffing manager, says the company has recently introduced a new diversity strategy, and is looking forward to great results.

The initial phase of the plan is a training program aimed at Rockwell Collins leaders and managers across the U.S. The idea is for all the participants to "develop action plans based around their personal and professional journeys," says Eric P. Stallworth, diversity program manager. "If it's something that they can translate into their management style, we ask them to do that." Between September 2005 and January 2006, about 1,200 people went through the program.

"We look for increased performance at all levels every year," Day points out. "So in this area of exploring diversity and becoming a more diverse company we expect broad leaps." Within the past year Rockwell Collins has developed or strengthened partnerships with SHPE, SWE, NSBE, HENAAC and others. Company CEO Clay Jones is also the company's chief diversity officer. He is leading the diversity council and implementing the new diversity strategy. Day reports that the company has been adding jobs, more than 780 last year alone. "We expect growth to continue at a similar pace," he says. The company is seeking pros with significant experience and also recent college grads. "A balance of both is desirable," says Day.

Stallworth notes that the company is cultivating relationships with HBCUs and "taking a look at different university sources and models."

The company is also aiming for additional outreach to other schools in a variety of locations that have diverse student bodies and cultures.

"In order to achieve the growth, we're going to have to look outside the traditional technical background. We typically retrain people anyway, and we need to make sure that we're taking that into consideration," explains Stallworth.

Rockwell Collins is extending its commitment to diversity into the community. Together with other major employers in Cedar Rapids, the company is supporting a new nonprofit organization, Diversity Focus, designed to make the community a welcoming place for people of all backgrounds. The new program should take off in 2006, Stallworth says.

Rockwell Collins is known for its commitment to community, education, and arts and culture, Day notes. It has established volunteer outreach programs, including mentoring disadvantaged students and donating computers to schools.

The company believes that the success of its business relates directly to the quality of life in local communities. "We have many communities around the country that are very excited about where we are in our journey," Day says.


Rockwell Collins

Headquarters: Cedar Rapids, IA
Employees: 17,000 worldwide
Revenues: $3.5 billion
Business: Design, production and support of communication and aviation electronics for commercial and government customers
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