Siemens, a worldwide company, is taking diversity worldwide too
"Diversity is a central component of our strategy,
and we have to stay in tune with that,"
says chief diversity officer Denice Kronau
Diversity at Siemens AG means that every voice is heard, says chief diversity officer Denice Kronau.
"That's what I emphasize to everyone in the company. If you have something to say, we want to hear it, regardless of your background or experience. Otherwise we may miss out on good ideas that we want to know about!"
Siemens AG is a leading contender in the industrial goods sector and has probably the largest environmental portfolio in the world, says Kronau. Its electronics and EE emphasis play a role in all sectors of industry, energy and healthcare.
The company's global presence is closely tied to its heavy emphasis on diversity. "We look at it as a competitive advantage. Diversity is a central component of our strategy, and to be successful we have to stay in tune with that," Kronau says.
The company's international employee networks bolster its diversity. Its Global Leadership Organization of Women (GLOW) group includes 150 of the top Siemens women from thirty-three countries, and its 160 Diversity Ambassadors are employees from more than forty countries.
Siemens has 176 R&D locations in the U.S. and looks to hire R&D pros in areas including water technology, wind turbines and trains. The company also seeks EEs and other engineers to work on power grids and other "smart" technologies. The company is currently looking for both new grads and experienced pros to fill some 12,000 open positions worldwide, 3,000 of them in the U.S.
Siemens is always in the market to hire more IT specialists, engineers and other highly technical people. Innovation is a core value, essential to stay competitive in the market, Kronau says. In the U.S., the company's largest market, 75 percent of products being sold today didn't exist five years ago, she says.
"In general, our attrition rate isn't high," Kronau notes. "Many people join and stay for their whole careers. That's because at Siemens you can work in industry, water technologies, the energy field and healthcare in 190 countries. That's a lot of variety in your career path!"
One engineering division has set up a program where engineers who are about to retire mentor younger employees. "It gets the learning curve up faster," Kronau says.
Another mentoring program, to "fast-track the international talent," is just getting started. Recently a woman CFO from South Africa was brought over to shadow a woman SVP in the U.S. for a week, and an employee from the Middle East followed a divisional CEO. The company also provides a global mentoring video based on a discussion between employees from around the world and the CEO and board members.
Then there's Siemens' "learning campus organization," which includes more than a hundred awareness courses with diversity-related content. Last year some 20,000 Siemens employees took one or more of the courses, which focus on general diversity, cultural sensitivities and gender issues.
Two years ago the CEO decided to make the corporate diversity office more visible to the Siemens worldwide organization. The office runs an active website and many employees add content and use it every day. There's also a blog focusing on diversity activities around the globe. Kronau works with local managers to discuss diversity issues relevant to them and help them form and execute their action plans.
The U.S. part of the company has a strong diversity organization which includes a senior diversity director and a council made up of people from various business units. The council meets monthly to discuss diversity issues being worked on.
To date there's no established global diversity council, but there is a corporation-wide diversity day each year. The focus has varied, including global leadership of women, mentoring, parental leave, flexible working conditions and more. Last year's focus was how diversity makes Siemens more innovative.
Techies at Siemens get involved with their communities via Siemens science days, where they run programs in local schools. And Siemens Caring Hands, a community service program started in the U.S. in 2001, has since gone global.
Siemens offers scholarship programs to talented high school students through the annual Siemens Westinghouse Science and Technology competition. The company also puts on the Change the World challenge program in conjunction with TV's Discovery Channel to teach K-12 students about environmental issues. The Siemens Foundation provides $7 million annually for this and other educational initiatives.
As chief diversity officer, Kronau has begun a relationship with the Ron Brown Scholar Program, which provides college scholarships for promising African American students. She hopes to increase internship opportunities for engineering students. "The project is in its beginning stages, but we're optimistic we'll find suitable opportunities," she says.
||350,000 in 190 countries;
60,000 in the U.S.
||$100 billion in FY 2010
||Electronics and electrical
engineering in the industrial, energy
and healthcare sectors