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Diversity In Action

EDS engages its global workforce

The diversity impetus comes from the CEO. Employees have a personalized portal for learning and development, customized to their needs

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Grady Searcy

Grady Searcy of EDS: "I'm positioned in the company to be effective."

Grady Searcy is Electronic Data Systems' VP of global workforce engagement, diversity and corporate social responsibility. It's his job to lead the company's diversity and inclusion practices for its 118,000 employees all over the U.S. and in sixty other countries. The job was created in 1991, and Searcy has filled the role since 2000.

"Through the HR organization and as a member of the executive leadership team, I'm positioned in the company to be effective," says Searcy. He also has the support of the corporate executive diversity council.

Next in line come the regional diversity councils, some nine of them. "They drive corporate objectives and plans down to the organizational level," Searcy explains.

The EDS diversity councils are organized by business and operating units within the U.S. Outside the U.S. they are regional, based on geography. Their mission is to maintain an inclusive workforce environment across the company.

"We ask the councils to develop activities that complement the corporate diversity strategy," says Searcy. The activities focus on the likes of education and awareness, recruitment and retention and cultural competencies.

For example, "The regional councils monitor the workforce to ensure all employees have access to developmental opportunities. The challenge is ensuring that the global team, including our people in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America and Canada, get an equal chance to contribute as members of the team and equal access to fulfilling careers within EDS."

The impetus for this approach comes from CEO Michael H. Jordan, who is deeply involved with the company's diversity practices. Before joining EDS in 2003, Jordan was at Frito-Lay and Westinghouse. He has chaired the United Negro College Fund and been on its board for twenty-three years.

Searcy notes that EDS practices an open door policy. "We believe that any employee should have the opportunity to make suggestions to any leader in the company."

EDS also provides a self-directed tool for employees. "In our line of business technical skill requirements change frequently. Keeping skill sets up to date is critical to success," Searcy explains. The EDS personalized portal helps employees around the world manage their learning and development needs.

The portal connects them with the right processes and tools for learning new skills, planning their careers, connecting with coaches and mentors and more.

Searcy is enthusiastic about the portal's value to employees. "If I want to look for a new job within the company or make a career change, I can search for development options, the training I need and a list of mentors and coaches willing to help me. It's a proactive tool and it fits nicely with the culture of this company."

EDS employees have access to compressed work weeks, job sharing and telecommuting. The company also offers educational sabbaticals, a wellness program, preventive healthcare and counseling.

The company encourages employees to be active with professional groups, and with the employee network groups for African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, GLBT folks and women. Regular activities celebrate the wide representation of cultures and heritages on the EDS team. EDS also has a Web portal for retired employees interested in keeping their hands in the business. "These are some of the best in the industry, and we hope to bring them back to work with our new people," Searcy declares.

Those new people, Searcy says, "are more self reliant and expect inclusion of ethnicity and gender. They're team-oriented, expect to have an impact on the decision-making process, and want their ideas to be heard very quickly."


Electronic Data Systems

Headquarters: Plano, TX
Employees: 118,000
Revenues: $19.8 billion in 2005
Business: IT and business technology services for manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, communications, energy, transportation, consumer and retail industries and governments worldwide. Core services include hosting, workplace storage, security and privacy and communications services; application services and business process outsourcing


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