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Diversity In Action

Cabot Microelectronics' workforce reflects customers and communities

The company's efforts have assembled, among others, "a diverse group of African American, Asian American, Asian and Arab American scientists"

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Researchers at Cabot's Aurora, IL R&D site: tight focus on core business.

Researchers at Cabot's Aurora, IL R&D site: tight focus on core business.

H Carol Bernstein, VP, secretary and general counsel at Cabot Microelectronics (CMC), believes that thinking small is the key to diversity. The company has worked hard to keep its organizational structure lean, and to "hire our workforce to reflect our customers and communities," she says.

CMC's 650 employees are located at the company's Aurora, IL HQ and in the UK, Japan, Taiwan, China, Singapore, Korea, France and Germany. R&D is headquartered in Aurora with additional facilities in Japan, Taiwan and Singapore.

The Aurora facility provides application and product support for customers as well as developing new products. It's equipped with a metrology lab, a polishing lab and a chem lab. There's also a dispersions pilot plant to support process innovation, and the company's applications and facilities engineers help customers integrate the new processes into their own facilities.

Cabot Microelectronics began as a division of Cabot Corp. It became an independent, publicly held company through an IPO and spin-off in 2000.

Bernstein thinks CMC's small size creates an entrepreneurial atmosphere, with a commendably tight focus on its own core business and the "very high- quality demands" of its customers. "We are a leader in our field and the world's leading supplier in our particular areas," she notes. Some 78 percent of the firm's business comes from customers outside the U.S.

CMC is actively recruiting scientific and tech staff in the U.S. and overseas. Engineers, chemists and physical scientists are needed, with a special interest in material science that relates to CMC's business, such as polymer chemistry and nanoparticle work.

Diversity is an important criteria for candidates. "We are a diverse group of people of complementary disciplines," Bernstein says. "It's important that we have diversity of scientific thought as well."

The members of CMC's leadership team head up their own groups that work to identify and mentor potential leaders. "We assess everyone in the organization, reviewing performance and individual aspirations," Bernstein stresses.

CMC gives its employees opportunities to expand onto that leadership track. "We will send a scientist to get an MBA or an engineer to get an MS or PhD." Many of CMC's scientists and engineers are active in professional organizations like the American Chemical Society, the International Research Institute and the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials Institute.

As part of her job, Bernstein is a trustee of the Illinois Math and Science Academy, a residential high school funded by the state to encourage math, science and disciplined critical thinking. The school has a substantial minority and female population. "We work with institutions like this to get students interested in what we do and how we do it," Bernstein explains.

CMC's community service efforts include work with the Aurora school district and the United Way.


Cabot Microelectronics

Headquarters: Aurora, IL
Employees: 650
Revenues: $270.5 million in 2005
Business: High-performance polishing slurries and pads used in the manufacture of advanced semiconductors and rigid disks for data storage


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