Global diversity takes a front seat at Lear Corporation
This nearly 100-year-old global company continues to evolve with new offerings. Hiring is strong for technical pros at all levels who can “think on their feet”
Lear Corporation, founded in 1917, is a major manufacturer and distributor of automotive seating and electrical distribution systems. A Fortune 500 company with more than 220 locations in thirty-six countries, Lear continually seeks talented people with technical, business and international experience.
“On a global basis, we are always looking for good mechanical and electrical engineers, as well as information technology professionals, from college graduates right out of school all the way to those who have been in the automotive field for a long time, or anything in between,” says David Maxwell, chief diversity officer. “We need people who are technically sound, can think on their feet, and can represent the company favorably to our customers.”
In the United States, Lear has plans to step up its recruitment of military veterans. “We believe their skill sets match what we do for a living in the automotive industry and manufacturing industry,” Maxwell says. “Plus, we think it’s the right thing to do. We want to support veterans returning to the workforce.
“At Lear, we believe diversity makes us a much stronger company,” he continues. “In addition to maintaining diversity in our workforce, we also work toward creating a strong supplier diversity network.”
“We are extremely active globally in community affairs,” Maxwell notes. He explains that Lear and its employees around the world support the communities where they do business through involvement in a wide range of organizations, community programs and charitable causes. The company provides one paid day off a year per employee to allow them to volunteer their time and resources to nonprofit organizations. Each Lear location shares its community activity summaries on the company intranet.
Investing in the Motor City
One of Lear’s community outreach targets is Detroit, MI, where the company has made major investments to revitalize and support its infrastructure, schools and youth.
Lear has pledged $5 million over five years to help with Detroit’s renaissance. Since 2010, completed projects have included several park updates, the renovation of two recreation centers, grounds beautification, equipment purchases, regular maintenance, and summer programs.
In 2012, Lear launched a program to benefit Detroit public schools. The company is underwriting a work-tutor program for approximately 150 East English Village Preparatory Academy high school students who tutor students at a nearby high school in reading, math and social studies.
The Lear Automotive Youth Academy is an innovative summer program that provides academic, employability and life skills development to local youth ages fourteen to seventeen. Students receive instruction from certified teachers and professional business trainers. During the six-week program, students receive a mix of academic, community service and work experience.
Lear has been the lead sponsor for Ravendale’s Youth Collaborating for Success program since it was launched in 2009. The program enrolls approximately 200 children annually with a goal of helping participants increase their self-esteem, develop leadership skills and be part of a positive community network. The Ravendale community is located on the east side of Detroit in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of the city.
Volunteers in Prevention establishes mentoring relationships by matching at-risk children with adult mentors. In addition to financial contributions to the organization, Lear employees participate in one-on-one weekly mentoring sessions with their assigned students at Murphy Middle School in Detroit.
Global outlook on diversity
The diversity program at Lear began a process of retooling in 2012 and continues to generate new ideas. There is a global focus. “Our diversity training programs use video and webcasts to communicate globally,” says Maxwell. Lear’s primary diversity council is a multidisciplinary group with fifteen members, including CEO Matthew Simoncini and others from around the world. “It’s easier to move plans forward when our CEO and his direct staff attend our monthly meetings,” says Maxwell. “We’re able to remove roadblocks immediately.”
In addition to this primary council, there are regional councils located around the world, in North America, Mexico, and Central America; eastern Europe; western Europe; Asia and South America.
According to Maxwell, a women’s resource group is in the early stages of development. “We’re very excited about it,” he says. “Once the group is established, we will encourage the formation of similar resources globally, as well as lay the groundwork for establishing other affinity groups.”
Lear has plans to roll out a mentoring program. Also in the midst of revision is Lear’s leadership review process. “We’re revamping it to make diversity a discussion point,” Maxwell says.
||Manufacturing of seating assemblies and electrical components for the automotive industry