Rockwell Collins is building a culture
“We absolutely are hiring, and the majority of our positions are technical,” says Steve Schulz, director of talent acquisition
Rockwell Collins got its start in 1933, when Arthur Collins launched a company to make short-wave radios. Over the years the company added flight controls, radio communications devices and satellite voice transmission. NASA’s Apollo, Gemini, Mercury and Skylab programs all used Collins communications equipment.
Rockwell International acquired the company in 1973 and strengthened its focus on aviation electronics. In 2001 Rockwell Collins was spun off, and today it designs, produces, markets and supports electronic communications, avionics and in-flight systems for commercial, military and government customers worldwide.
Sue Nelson, director of Rockwell Collins’ office of diversity, explains that the company’s diversity strategy focuses on three areas: people, workplace and marketplace.
“People” diversity attracts, builds and retains an inclusive workforce. Workplace diversity creates an environment that accepts and encourages inclusion. Marketplace diversity aims
for innovative solutions to best serve customers and other stakeholders.
Rockwell Collins’ wide range of communication and aviation electronics solutions for commercial and government applications includes flight deck avionics, cabin electronics, mission communications, information management, and simulation and training. The company anticipates a growing demand for high-tech products like full-flight simulators for commercial aircraft and high-resolution helmet-mounted displays. These are just a few of the factors that will drive Rockwell Collins’ need for a larger workforce, says Steve Schulz, director of talent acquisition.
Some 60 percent of the company’s hiring is IT and engineering staff. “We absolutely are hiring, and the majority of our positions are technical,” Schulz affirms; especially systems and software engineers. Part of the company’s recruiting strategy is to look outside its own industry, in fields like automotive and gaming. “That’s one great approach to unlocking innovative thi nking,” Schulz says.
In addition to its Cedar Rapids, IA HQ, the company has forty-plus locations in twenty-plus states and more than thirty locations in the U.K., France, Germany, China, India and elsewhere around the globe.
Rockwell Collins partners with HBCUs including Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, AL) and North Carolina A&T, and has strong recruiting relationships with SWE, NSBE, HENAAC and others. “When we’re developing a sourcing strategy we always think through a diversity lens,” says Schulz. “Our recruiters invest a tremendous amount of time and effort to make sure we find the right candidates and employees.”
Rockwell Collins has two diversity councils. The executive council is led by the CEO, and the diversity advisory council includes reps from the company’s various business units in most major company locations.
The company has had a formal mentoring program in place for seven years, and has added generation, gender and race components. “Mentoring is becoming a two-way senior/junior process,” Nelson notes with pride. In some cases the mentoring pairs are built around specific interests, based on variables selected by the mentee.
Employee networks at the company foster connections and a sense of community, helping
to attract good people and support personal and professional growth. The current group of networks includes African Americans of Rockwell Collins, Disability Network Group and Supporters, Friends of Asia, Latino Employee Network, New Hire Network, Pride Employee Network, and Women’s Employee Network; more than 4,000 employees belong to a group.
These networks sponsor diversity learning events and must create business plans, Nelson notes. “Each network has its own strategy and activities.”
Networks are also conduits for community activities, partnering with the Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brother/Big Sister, the YMCA, Junior Achievement and regional organizations like the Hispanic chambers of commerce.
Rockwell Collins has strategic diversity partnerships with nine diversity-related organizations: the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network and MentorNet, GEM, the National Organization on Disability, the National Urban League, Out and Equal, the PhD Project and Women in Engineering Programs and Advocates Network. The partnerships provide opportunities for employee volunteers and made donations of more than $140,000 the first year of the program.
The company provides resources for career planning and professional development training through its newly launched corporate university. The university offers courses on topics from leadership development to engineering. The company’s diversity training takes place in the “school of essential studies,” a testament to the priority Rockwell Collins places on the topic.
“We firmly believe that a diverse workforce outperforms one that is not,” Schulz says. “Generating new ideas, developing new solutions, questioning the status quo: all that is less likely to occur when there’s just one kind of thinking in a company.”
As Nelson puts it, “Our diversity journey is really about people working together and accepting each other. Our employees are all coming together to help Rockwell Collins become a more inclusive place to work.”
||Cedar Rapids, IA
||$4.47 billion in 2009
||Communication/navigation and aviation electronics, simulation and training systems for commercial and defense clients