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Diversity In Action

Kraft Foods provides millions of products for consumers worldwide

"Our people need to understand our strategies and leverage their technical capabilities to provide innovative solutions," says the SVP/CIO


Mark Dajani, SVP and CIO: 'deep technical expertise relevant to the position.'The technical jobs available at Kraft Foods are as varied as the food products in its portfolio. But there's a constant: "To meet the needs of the business, we need innovative employees with lots of passion for their work," says Tim Mote, associate director of university relations.

Kraft Foods is the world's second largest food company. It makes products for consumers in some 170 countries. Eleven of its brands bring in annual revenues of more than $1 billion each: Oreo cookies, Nabisco and LU biscuits; Milka and Cadbury chocolates; Trident gum; Jacobs and Maxwell House coffees; Philadelphia cream cheese; Kraft cheeses, dinners and dressings and Oscar Mayer meats. Seventy brands generate annual revenues of more than $100 million each.

Kraft Foods offers careers for techies in R&D, IS, and on manufacturing teams in areas like ChE, IE, ME, software engineering and, of course, food science. The company is actively hiring in many of these areas.

Kraft usually requires "deep technical expertise relevant to the position," says Mark Dajani, SVP and CIO. Once in, the company supports high-potential employees with formal leadership development programs and less formal peer-led manager learning communities.

Beyond the essential technical skills, it's vital that employees engage and connect with consumers, Dajani adds. He also likes to see the ability to develop partnerships, think critically, influence others and lead teams. "And our people need to understand the company's business strategies and leverage their technical capabilities to provide innovative solutions for the company," Dajani says.

Diversity obviously plays a huge role at a company with worldwide consumer outreach, Mote notes. "Different perspectives help us see firsthand how we can better meet consumer needs with innovative and delicious foods."

For example, Kraft Foods offers eight different diversity scholarships to underrepresented groups in ChE and packaging science as part of its efforts to promote diversity in the University of Florida's college of engineering. Another example: during job-shadow day, students in the packaging field who attend the Pack Expo in Chicago are invited to the Kraft Foods R&D center in Glenview, IL for an inside look at package developing at the company.

There's also the research apprentice program, which raises awareness and encourages diverse high school students to go into agriculture, food science and engineering. The program provides mentoring, mini-lab projects, merit scholarships and of course internships at Kraft.

Jim Norman.New employees at Kraft Foods go through diversity and inclusion training, says Jim Norman, VP of diversity. The programs, he notes, are "designed to heighten awareness, provide consistent diversity and inclusion messaging, share our CEO's commitment and expectations and develop diversity-savvy leaders and personal effectiveness." The programs cover areas like the power of differences, efficacy for people of color and managing inclusion.

There's also the Kraft Foods diversity practices council, made up of leaders from areas like corporate and legal affairs, multicultural marketing, diversity management and talent acquisition. It's up to them to make sure Kraft's diversity work is aligned with corporate strategies.

Kraft has ten diversity-focused employee councils: African American, African Americans in Operations, Asian American, Black Sales, Community Outreach, Hispanic-Asian Sales, Latin American Women, Latino, Rainbow, Supply Chain Women and Women's Sales Council.

The company tries to keep its hiring rates of women and minorities at or above their representation in the workforce. "We strive to grow our salaried workforce representation to match that of our consumers, and we want the representation of our workforce to be consistent at all levels of the organization," Norman says.

Women make up about 43 percent of the global salaried workforce; in the U.S., about 22 percent of employees are people of color.

"We've made significant improvements in the representation of women and people of color within Kraft Foods over the last five years," Norman says. "And we strive to do even better to make sure we bring together people with diverse experiences, perspectives and backgrounds in an open and inclusive environment."

Kraft focuses on accelerated development plans for high-potential women and people of color to ensure they reach their full potential, Norman notes. "Progress is measured against comprehensive plans that are monitored annually."

Kraft also offers development and mentoring programs. Peer coaching helps women and people of color increase their effectiveness; supply chain coaching is a program for women during their first few months in a new assignment, followed by a formal mentoring program for the rest of the year.

The Latino Council's most successful initiative is a self-development model to help talented Latinos with mentoring, professional development, career planning and networking.

Work-life balance is important at Kraft Foods. There's a new-mother phase-in program and a backup dependent care program, plus telecommuting, flex-time, job sharing and part-time options, Norman says.

"For many years we've offered work-life harmony programs, and over the last decade we've evolved more programs to help employees meet their career and family needs," Norman says.

Volunteerism and community service are important to the Kraft employee workforce. The company has a longtime commitment to fighting hunger and promoting healthy lifestyles; it's donated nearly $1 billion in cash and food in the past twenty-five years.

Through a group of events, Kraft Foods is helping to meet pressing needs of communities around the world. Last October, some 20,000 employees in more than fifty-five countries volunteered in their communities during Kraft's "delicious difference" week.

In other volunteer events, employees build playgrounds, plant community gardens, work at food banks and an R&D team does distance mentoring at the University of Florida's College of Engineering via monthly conference calls.

"Our employees provide academic and professional development advice and opportunities to these students from diverse backgrounds," Norman says with pleasure.

D/C



Kraft Foods Inc
Kraft Foods Inc
www.kraftfoodscompany.com

Headquarters: Northfield, IL
Employees: About 140,000
Revenues: Approx $48 billion
in 2009
Business: World's second largest food company

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