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June/July 2003
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June/July 2003
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Diversity in action

Northrop Grumman IT: brand new company with a complex heritage
The new $4.2 billion sector hires 5,000 people a year, and draws strength from its diverse company cultures as well as its increasingly diverse workforce
Michael Patrick: “Taking advantage of all this diversity and building on it is one of the most exciting things.”
Michael Patrick: “Taking advantage of all this diversity and building on it is one of the most exciting things.”

When Northrop Grumman Corp (Los Angeles, CA) merged several companies into its new Northrop Grumman Information Technology sector, the result was a meshing of diverse employees, cultures and business practices.

Northrop Grumman IT is now in its second year, and the meshing has proved a pronounced success. The sector draws its strength from its diverse company cultures, as well as the ethnic, gender and other diversities of its workforce, says Michael Patrick, executive director of workforce recruiting and planning.

The sector continues to emphasize the importance of diversity in employee recruitment, he adds. “Taking advantage of all this diversity and building on it is one of the most exciting things about the new company.”

Northrop Grumman IT is the second-largest of Northrop Grumman’s seven sectors. Before Northrop Grumman acquired Litton Industries in 2001, the sector was called Logicon. Since then, several companies have been acquired and integrated into it. Besides the original Logicon group, there are Fed Data, Sterling Software, Comptech, Litton TASC and Litton PRC.

“It’s exciting to bring the wonderful heritage of these companies together and create a brand new company,” Patrick says. “Not only has that happened in the IT sector, it has happened across the whole corporation.

“We sometimes think of ourselves as a company of immigrants,” he reflects. “The employee population that originally worked for Northrop or Grumman is only 12 percent of our total because of all the acquisitions.”

North Grumman logo

Headquarters: Herndon, VA
Employees: 23,000
Revenues: $4.2 billion
Business: Advanced IT solutions, engineering and business services for government and commercial clients; includes C4ISR, range support, IT security, SIGINT and more

Nearly all the work of Northrop Grumman IT is with the U.S. government. About 60 percent is done for the Department of Defense and the intelligence community, and 33 percent is in other federal work. The rest is with state and local government and commercial markets.

The sector supports the full life cycle of IT solutions, Patrick explains. “We do everything from supporting the missions of our customers to creating the systems and solutions they need for their unique purposes,” he says.

Sector focus areas include Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR); enterprise hardware and software; base and range support; training and simulation; signals intelligence; space systems; health informatics; and specialized scientific, engineering and technical services.

Technical employees may do planning, which includes consulting, defining requirements and establishing policies. They may work on systems engineering and development, software engineering and systems integration. Or they may support system deployment or operations, including performance testing and evaluation, installation, and training people to use the systems.

Northrop Grumman IT has employees at more than 500 company and customer locations. Employees working at client sites support efforts from helpdesks to ops centers for spacecraft. “We hired approximately 5,000 people in 2002 and expect to hire at least that many again this year,” Patrick says.

The major concentrations are the DC metro area, Southern California, Colorado and Florida, but “We’ve got people everywhere.” Engineers and computer scientists top the list, with computer, software and systems engineering the most needed specialties.

That, says Patrick, is because the company goes far beyond traditional IT, designing and developing systems and working in signal analysis and similar areas. But the company also needs hordes of people for more conventional work like helpdesk support, network management, IS and ops.

In both hiring and promoting, IT emphasizes the importance of diversity. “We look at our applicant flow to be sure that it mirrors the work environment where we operate,” Patrick says. “And we’ve established goals, not only in IT but across the corporation, to be sure that we look long enough internally and externally to find diverse candidates for promotion.”

Lee Karbowski: “The bottom line is inclusion. Each business unit within IT has an individual diversity plan.”
Lee Karbowski: “The bottom line is inclusion. Each business unit within IT has an individual diversity plan.”

Lee Karbowski, executive director of workplace relations for Northrop Grumman IT, says the corporation constantly works with each of its business units to gather and analyze statistics on the success of promoting women and minorities.

“The bottom line is inclusion. Each business unit within IT has an individual diversity plan,” Karbowski says. For example, some units have formed specific networking and diversity groups. The company also supports national technical diversity groups.

All employees take a course in diversity and inclusion, Karbowski points out. The sector uses an e-learning tool called Smart Force, which has specific modules for employees and managers.

The company also emphasizes work/life balance for its employees. It has policies for flextime and telecommuting and an employee assistance program, and early this year it started offering domestic partner benefits.

Karbowski and Patrick are also excited about DiscoverE. This program, designed to interest kids in engineering, was originally developed as part of National Engineers Week by the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Northrop Grumman IT targets minority and woman students at schools near company sites, and some 100 volunteers will take DiscoverE to about fifty elementary, junior and senior high schools in 2003. This is the second year for the program at IT.

“Companies like Northrop Grumman are committed to getting more women and minorities involved in technical fields to meet the growing needs for talent,” Patrick says. “DiscoverE is designed to improve student interest in technology, science and math. We hope that when the kids see how those subjects apply to the real world, they’ll get excited about them in school.”

Some of those kids may be working for Northrop Grumman IT before too long.