Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



April/May 2011

Diversity/Careers April/May 2011 Issue

Women of color in IT
Aerospace & defense
Insurance IT
Manufacturing tech
Civil engineering
BEYA conference

Veteran-owned companies
WBENC conference preview
News & Views
Regional roundup
Supplier diversity

Diversity in action
News & Views

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  Johns Hopkins APL

Diversity In Action

Chrysler's pushing for top engineering talent this year

The company recently announced it will need 1,000 engineers. Automotive savvy helps now that Chrysler has a product plan and is launching new models

Chrysler is in "a positive swing," with great business progress due to outstanding products and a growing and engaged workforce, says Lisa Wicker, director of talent acquisition and global diversity, compliance and training. As a result, a push for engineering talent is underway this year.

"Our slogan has always been 'The things we make, make us,' and now we've added the theme that 'Engineers make us,' too," Wicker says.

This year Chrysler is hiring across the company, especially in engineering, manufacturing and corporate staff positions. The company recently announced the need for 1,000 engineers, expected to be hired this year. "We look for MEs, EEs and IEs: all the kinds of engineers that work in automotive-related fields."

Experience needed depends on thejob; some require specific qualifications and certifications. Of course automotive experience helps now that Chrysler has a product plan and is launching new models, Wicker says. The company also seeks IT pros who understand and have experience putting in new platforms, she adds.

Chrysler recruits from professional networking organizations and attends their conferences: the National Black MBAs, SWE, Black Engineer of the Year and more. In fact, this February one of Chrysler's plant managers was recognized with a president's award at the Black Engineer of the Year conference.

The company's university relations program includes HBCUs and Hispanic- and Native American-serving universities, especially the ones with curricula that support the company's business needs. The program includes corporate executive sponsors and a captain and cross-functional team that hit the campus for career days and other placement-office activities, Wicker says.

New hires learn about Chrysler diversity values through a comprehensive orientation program. Experts present the strategy, intent and philosophy of an inclusive corporate culture, and a corporate diversity statement signed by the CEO hangs in every Chrysler facility.

Chrysler's diversity council has been in business more than a decade; its members report directly to the CEO. Meetings focus on culture and leadership and members are expected to head up efforts on diversity and inclusion, Wicker says.

Six employee resource groups (ERGs) work with the council: the African American, Hispanic, Native American, LGBT and Asian networks and the Women's Forum. "We also have a military vets' forum and some management forums," Wicker says.

The ERGs pre-date the diversity council. In fact, the African American group has been in existence for more than twenty years, Wicker says. "They started out as a club, bringing together common experiences and constituencies. Now these groups are catalysts and conduits for business objectives. They dip into product evaluation, marketing and advertising programs, and some put on monthly celebrations."

Mentoring among employees has been "very progressive" as a result of the ERG involvement. Each ERG has a "very sophisticated" mentoring program. Last year Wicker herself mentored two employees, one from the African American ERG and the other from the Women's Forum. Some ERGs boast more than forty mentor/ mentee pairs.

Community outreach and volunteerism also flourish at Chrysler's ERGs. "Employees are engaged and energized around this," Wicker says. "Groups secure goods and donations for needy families and Habitat for Humanity. Volunteerism is a great part of the ERGs."

Company engineers participate in FIRST Robotics, and they're engaged with many Michigan universities. They've sponsored work with Great Minds in STEM (formerly HENAAC), and council leaders go to Native American reservations every year to talk about becoming an engineer.

New hires can expect a "robust culture" of support at Chrysler. The company has won a place on Working Mother magazine's "best companies" list for fourteen years straight. In some years it was the only automotive company to get such recognition, Wicker reports with pride.

Why? "Because we have an environment that embraces people; we have a lot to offer our employees." Wicker notes that Chrysler has more than a hundred ways to support a strong work-life balance, everything from tutoring for kids to daycare and eldercare. And for the finer things of company life, count on lactation rooms, hair care and nail care, an on-site masseuse, a pharmacy, a health clinic and a HQ gymnasium.



Headquarters: Auburn Hills, MI
Employees: 52,000
Revenues: $41.9 billion in 2010
Business: Automotive manufacturer

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