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Diversity In Action

Northrop Grumman needs plenty of new engineering hires

Employee groups and a variety of programs support diversity and inclusion; hiring is active across the company and from coast to coast

Staffing director Greg Hodges looks on while members of Northrop Grumman’s Teachers and Engineers for Academic Achievement program set up for a summer session to coach middle school STEM teachers in engineering ideas and careers. 'This is an engineers’ company,” explains Greg Hodges, director
of staffing for Northrop Grumman Corp. “Many of our company leaders are engineers, and 60
to 70 percent of our hiring is
in engineering, IT and technical management.”

Hodges has jobs to fill in
literally every engineering and
IT specialty. In recent years Northrop Grumman has hired from 12,000 to 15,000 new employees a year, and “Our history and backlog makes
me think that will continue,” Hodges says.

Northrop Grumman is a global defense and technology company with expertise in information systems and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding. It has locations across the U.S. and in more than twenty-five countries around the world. Much of its work is done for the U.S. defense community, but its customers also include other government agencies as well as industrial enterprises.

The company’s origins stretch back to the pre-World War II Northrop Aircraft Inc. Over the decades Northrop Grumman has integrated the operations of seven major contractors, most recently TRW Inc, and dozens of smaller ones, to become one of the largest federal contractors in IT, defense and space.

Specific skills needed vary from business to business and location to location. Co-op and intern programs also vary. But hiring for both student employment and permanent jobs is coordinated at the corporate level, so that if a candidate’s qualifications aren’t a good fit for one part of the company, another business may have the perfect slot.

Because the company does so much work for the U.S. government, all applicants for these positions must be U.S. citizens and have the ability to obtain a security clearance. An active clearance is a big plus for experienced applicants.

The tracking system that helps place new applicants in the right part of the company is also used to fill openings internally. “We have a posting system for jobs that’s a vibrant source of opportunity, and our stats show that there’s a lot of internal mobility,” Hodges declares.

Mentoring is an essential part of the Northrop Grumman culture, both to pass on the knowledge of longtime employees and to develop the careers of new recruits. “We have a mixture of formal and informal programs,” Hodges reports. “Mentoring is managed at the business level. Each business identifies high-potential early-career and mid-career people, and offers them learning and development programs.” That process is tracked in the corporate office, he adds, to ensure diversity in the corporate pipeline.

At least 10 percent of new hiring will be new grads. “I’ve seen that students are better prepared now, better rounded. They do team assignments on campus, so they’re ready for the corporate world,” Hodges comments.

Many new grads start out in some kind of rotation program, Hodges notes. There are programs in engineering, supply chain management and other areas. The rotation program at Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, for example, lasts twelve to eighteen months and involves three to four assignments in areas like design, manufacturing and test.

There’s an emphasis on diversity in the company’s college recruiting, Hodges adds. “We work with the local NSBE, SHPE, SWE and AISES chapters.”

Sandra Evers-Manley, VP of corporate responsibility, shapes the Northrop Grumman diversity and inclusion strategy. There are diversity and inclusion councils at the local level and accountability measures to ensure progress is being made. Employee resource groups (ERGs) bring together folks with common interests.

“The ERGs help employees with similar career goals and backgrounds connect with each other even though they don’t work in the same place,” Hodges explains. Company-wide conferences, like an annual women’s conference, reinforce the local activities. One of the newest ERGs, Connect1NG, is for new grads and others new to the company. “It started at several business units, and is now spreading across the company,” Hodges reports. The ERGs also serve as a conduit for people with an interest in volunteering in the community or as recruiters.

Many Northrop Grumman technical pros receive awards from SHPE, SWE, the Black Engineer of the Year organization and more. Nora Lin, manager of the supportability engineering group in the company’s electronic systems sector, was named president-elect of SWE in August 2008. She will be the third Northrop Grumman employee to serve as SWE president.

“Northrop Grumman embraces diversity and inclusion,” Hodges concludes.


Northrop Grumman Corp Logo.

Northrop Grumman Corp


Headquarters: Los Angeles, CA
Employees: more than 120,000
Revenues: $32 billion
Business: Global defense and technology; innovative systems, products and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding for government and commercial customers worldwide

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