'In the last four years, diversity at Rohm & Haas has taken a big leap," says Stacey Adams, corporate diversity director. "We've gone from the traditional workforce compliance/sensitivity training to considering it a business imperative."
Accountability starts at the top. CEO Raj Gupta heads up the chair's diversity council that sets strategic direction for the company. Diversity objectives are linked to management performance.
Rohm & Haas is an international company with operations across the U.S. and in Europe, Latin America and the Asia/Pacific region. Its specialty chemicals business spans dozens of areas, including adhesives and sealants; formulations for lotions, dishwashing liquids and laundry detergents; formulations for paints; and electronic materials found in I-Pods and cell phones.
Operating in a global market involves teaching execs and managers how to navigate cross-culturally. In fact, "On a daily basis, employees at all levels need to interact across cultures, with team members as well as customers."
Adams says it's her goal to establish a cultural mindset and accountability for diversity. "I expect diversity to be right behind safety on the monthly meeting agenda," she declares.
Diversity can be a strong recruiting tool. Rohm & Haas partners with SWE and has a senior exec on its board. The company also participates in conferences and job fairs put on by NOBCChE, SHPE, BDPA, the National Society of Hispanic MBAs and the National Black MBA Association. In fact, "We're number four in NBMBAA's list of top companies to work for," Adams notes with pride.
Charles Wallace, IT director for global architecture and infrastructure, is taking advantage of the groundwork laid by Adams and her team. He needs to bring in people with business savvy as well as IT smarts. About a third of new hires in his high-tech organization are recent MS or MBA grads.
The global architecture and infrastructure group is responsible for worldwide delivery of everything electronic, from cell phones and desktops to communications networks and telephone systems for 130 locations. The hosting systems are managed centrally at Philadelphia HQ, where most of the 300 people in the group are located.
Global expansion at Rohm & Haas gives employees a chance to take on short- and long-term international assignments. The hottest opportunities are for IT folks at startup facilities in the Shanghai area. Some employees from outside the U.S. have returned to their home countries, on assignment to translate the Rohm & Haas culture "into what's appropriate locally."
Beth Albright is HR director for engineering ops and technology. She notes that Engineering hubs are in Bristol, PA and Houston, TX, but the company also places engineers at manufacturing facilities throughout the country.
"Engineering is a foundation for almost anything you do in the company," Albright says. "Even the CEO has an engineering degree." Rohm & Haas has about 65 percent ChEs and 30 percent MEs, with some EEs and IEs. Besides strictly engineering jobs, they work in production, ops, supply chain, logistics, procurement, plant management, research, processing, sales and marketing.
There's a rotation in R&D for PhDs, and an interesting opportunity to get involved in outside work. "We encourage our PhDs to reach out to partner with universities, pursue projects outside their immediate jobs, give back to the organization," says Albright. The company funds approved projects.
Adams uses both formal and informal tracking systems to find out how things are going with diverse employees in the manufacturing and IT organizations. Affinity groups, for example, provide ongoing feedback. The African American leadership network has been in place for ten years, the women's leadership network for five, the Asia-Pacific American for four, and the Hispanic for two years.
Rohm & Haas offers flexible working options, including a compressed workweek, job sharing, flextime and, in some cases, telecommuting. "Our entire consumer industrial specialties organization is virtual," says Adams.
Rohm & Haas Co
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personal care, industrial process, packaging, paper, transportation and water management