December 2008/January 2009

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Diversity in action
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Diversity In Action

Qwest’s goal is to lead in communications & community

The company needs engineers at all levels as well as software developers, IT systems architects and analysts and product managers

Diversity director Shasha Richardson: “an incredible national network with high-end capabilities.”For more than a century, homes and businesses have relied on Qwest’s dependable dial tone. Now the company provides voice, video and data services as well as the familiar telephone connections.

Qwest is hiring techies. “We have more than 100 open positions in our IT organization, ranging from the network side of the house where development is going on to systems already in place,” says Debi Duran, director of staffing.

Both experienced professionals and college grads are needed. About two years of LAN experience are required for jobs in IT security and network security. Design engineers need five years’ experience with fiber and copper. Analyst architects and software system engineers need experience in a number of programming languages: C, C++, Java and database apps like Oracle.

The Denver-based company serves a fourteen-state region that stretches from Washington and Oregon to Minnesota and Iowa. Qwest recently won a portion of a major contract, Networx Enterprise, with the U.S. General Services Administration. It will provide communication services to more than fifty government agencies, including the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense.

“We’re one of three preferred providers,” says Shasha Richardson, director of diversity. “We have an incredible national network with high-end capabilities.”

In the Qwest service territories, Richardson says, the company works to makes sure its employees are representative of the customers they serve. “Twenty-eight percent of new hires last year were diverse,” she explains. “When you look at entry-level management that number increased to fifty percent.”

To reach diverse candidates Qwest has recently focused additional effort on national conventions of organizations like SHPE and SWE, reports Kathleen Shaffer, diversity staffing manager.

To maintain its internal focus on diversity Qwest relies on an executive steering committee. “It’s apparent that you cannot have a ‘program’ around diversity,” Richardson explains. “It has to be a culture. To do that, you need executive support and input.” The executive committee provides a formal structure to look at diversity efforts.

Membership in Qwest’s seven employee resource groups (ERGs) recently increased by 50 percent and is still growing. “It’s an important part of our diverse culture,” says Richardson. “We get behind employee resource groups, allocate dollars, and challenge them to come up with initiatives that benefit diverse employees.”

The increased membership and energy led a Washington State ERG to explore mentoring programs tailored to its members. “We do have one or two business units that operate formal mentoring programs, but because our business units are so diverse and have different skill sets there’s no one type that fits all,” Richardson notes.

Qwest has incorporated the decades-old tradition of telephone company volunteerism into its culture. Thousands of volunteer hours put in by employees and retirees, along with the company’s charitable contributions, benefit the communities where its employees live, work and play, Richardson reports.


Qwest Logo.

Qwest Communications International Inc


Headquarters: Denver, CO
Employees: 34,500
Revenues: $13.778 billion
Business: Voice, video and data services across America and the world

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