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Diversity In Action

Wright Express welcomes IT diversity

The company is looking for Java developers to support a new technology platform. Women make up a quarter of the IT department

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Staffing manager Diane Rogers: Portland offers a strong quality of life.

Staffing manager Diane Rogers: Portland offers a strong quality of life.

Tod Demeter, SVP and CIO at Wright Express (WEX), says more than 80 percent of the products and services the company sells to its customers have an IT component. IT is essential to the company's purchase control products, its transaction processing and the information-filled reports that fleet managers need to run their businesses.

"IT has a huge impact on the success of the company," Demeter declares. "The solutions our IT team develops and builds every day are growing the revenue of the business."

Wright Express offers specialized charge cards for commercial and government car, van and truck fleet operators in the U.S. and Canada. In March 2005 the company implemented a new technology platform, which has functions and features tailored to the specific needs of customers.

The company is looking for Java developers familiar with the software development lifecycle to support the platform. It also seeks analysts who can understand its core business, and people with experience in Siebel CRM solutions and Peoplesoft.

Wright Express has operations centers in South Portland, ME and Salt Lake City, UT. The South Portland facility employs more than 640 people, including an IT team of 135. A quarter of them are women. The Utah office, which deals with money transactions, accounts receivable and credit approval, has a staff of about thirty, says Diane Rogers, staffing manager.

In 2005 Wright Express received the Maine Women's Policy Center action award for its commitment to women in the workplace. The award recognized the company's violence and harassment intervention policies and its mothers' lactation room. The mothers' room, says Rogers, "totally makes sense if you want women to come back to work after they have children."

Wright Express also offers flex time, domestic partner benefits, adoption assistance, a generous paid time-off plan, and childcare reimbursement through flexible spending accounts, she adds.

Wright Express became a public company in February 2005. Rogers notes that this has placed an even greater emphasis on the company's existing priorities for diversity and work/life balance.

Although an affirmative action plan is not mandatory because Wright Express is not a government contractor, the firm has an affirmative action staffing plan in place and actively seeks minority suppliers.

All employees receive "code of conduct" training and the company has established a complaint hotline for workplace issues.

"In Maine you don't get the opportunity to hire a lot of diverse candidates because Maine has historically had a small minority population," Rogers notes. "But the minorities who have come to live and work in the Portland area have been attracted to WEX because of our reputation in the community."

South Portland is only ninety minutes by car from Boston, MA and offers a strong quality of life. "Everything is close, and there's a Portland city bus system that drops people off right at our office," Rogers reports.

The company's community outreach program is called Wright Express Wellness, Activity, Volunteerism and Events (WEX WAVE). The company has worked with Portland's adult education program to help women on welfare get into the workforce. Company employees coached the women through a model interview process and later went over the results with them.

"It worked really well for us, too," says Rogers. "We hired several women from those classes. And we hired a visually impaired person for the summer to work in inside sales, which was very successful. " Wright Express has a close relationship with the University of Southern Maine (USM). Wright Express executives actively mentor USM students, and the company is a sponsor of the governor's CS scholarships at USM. Wright Express takes on interns from the school's CS program, and internships can lead to job offers in the IT department, Demeter says.

He is enthusiastic about the USM talent. "We've had some interns come out of USM that we've been totally thrilled with. They've gone from interns to full hires and are some of our strongest people."

Wright Express posts its open positions online with JobsinME, Monster and Hotjobs. IT jobs are also listed with the Maine Software Development Association (www.mesda.com), and company reps speak at Java user groups and attend job fairs in Boston.

This works fairly well, Rogers says. "But I would like to reach out across the U.S. to bring in even more diverse candidates. They bring diverse experiences, a different way of looking at things and a different approach to solving problems."


Wright Express


Headquarters: South Portland, ME
Employees: 650
Revenues: $241 million in 2005
Business: Payment processing and info management services for U.S. commercial and government vehicle fleets


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