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June/July 2003
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June/July 2003
Diversity/Careers June/July 2003
Focus on diversity
African American software engineers
Changing technologies
Civil engineers are building the future
Tech update
Creating assistive technology
Society news
BDPA plans a gala twenty-fifth in Philly
Mentors at work
MentorNet brings tech pros together with women students via e-mail
Carol Havis of Menlo Logistics
At the top
Catherine Brune is senior VP and CTO at Allstate
Diversity in action
at the Air Force Research Lab, Goldman Sachs, John Deere, the National Weather Service, Northrop Grumman IT, SC Johnson, Thales Navigation and Xerox


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Diversity in action

At Xerox, thirty-plus years promoting diversity
Name a diversity initiative and Xerox has it, and very likely helped pioneer it. Minorities make up a quarter of tech staffers, with more being sought
Ernest Hicks, corporate diversity manager, swings into a presentation.

Xerox Corp, founded in 1906, is a pioneer and leader in the document processing field. Its name is often used as the generic term for photocopiers. It specializes in printers, presses and copiers, along with associated supplies, software and support. It spent close to a billion dollars on R&D; last year.

The company is also a pioneer in efforts to nurture a diverse workplace. Ernest Hicks, a thirty-year veteran who manages the corporate diversity office, recalls how the effort began.

In the late 1960s, a succession of race riots began in Detroit and swept east. One of the cities involved was Rochester, NY, the company’s HQ at the time. Joseph Wilson was the Xerox president then.

“He wrote a letter to all Xerox managers,” Hicks says. “He said we don’t have to go too far in this world to see injustice as it relates to people, and especially, at that point in time, black people. He said he wanted a very aggressive program to recruit and hire blacks in this company.

“He meant throughout the U.S. It started the Xerox diversity movement,” Hicks remembers.

Today there are countless examples of the Xerox embrace of diversity, starting with CEO and chair Anne Mulcahy, the company’s first female to hold that position.

Another example is Ursula Burns, a Xerox senior VP named to the Fortune list of the fifty most powerful black execs in America. An engineer by trade, she started at Xerox in 1980 as an intern. Now she heads up the $4 billion document systems and solutions group, which generates up to 40 percent of the company’s total revenues.

Xerox Corp

Headquarters: Stamford, CT
Employees: 67,800 worldwide, including 38,000 in the U.S.
Revenues: $15.8 billion
Business: Document publishing services and systems, including commercial color and black-and-white printers, digital presses, multifunction devices, digital copiers, supplies, software, support

Hicks notes that women comprise a third of the Xerox workforce, and thirty percent of employees are minorities. Twenty-two percent of execs and managers are minorities, and one-third are women. In technical specialties, minorities comprise nearly a quarter, while women make up eight percent.

The extensive focus on diversity is also seen in manager training programs, new hire curricula and overall employee communications, Hicks says. The company works to ensure a diverse mix in employee development and training programs, including identifying people with management potential.

Many of Xerox’s 67,800 worldwide employees are technical professionals. Technical hiring is ongoing, although the numbers were down last year and may be this year as well, says Todd Stout, national recruiting department manager.

On the positive side, there have been no large-scale layoffs this year. Overall, new hires in 2002 were 15 percent college grads and 85 percent professionals with experience.

The most active hiring is in sales, but some successful candidates have tech backgrounds. “We’re seeing salespeople who are technology-oriented,” Stout says.

He notes that new high-end products mean more opportunities for technical folks. “We’ll look for people who have anywhere from a BS all the way up to a PhD in fields like ME, EE, CS, computer engineering, physics and imaging science.”

Xerox emphasizes the work-life balance, says Hicks. He lists worker-friendly options like flextime, flex benefits, job sharing, childcare, thirty-hour schedules, telecommuting and domestic partner benefits.

Last year, Forbes magazine ranked Xerox among the top companies to work for. It was ranked sixth for workplace diversity, Stout notes. Other honors include a place on the “top 100” list of Hispanic Business.

Active Xerox caucus groups include the National Black Employee Association, the Hispanic Association for Professional Advancement and the Black Women’s Leadership Council. Most recently, Asians Coming Together (ACT) and Gay and Lesbian Employees at Xerox were formed.

The groups have made significant contributions to the Xerox work culture, says Hicks. For example, he credits the Black Employee Association with helping to develop a consistent format for performance appraisals and a formal succession-planning process.

New Xerox iGen3 copier for high-end print production.

“How do you identify potential candidates and develop them?” Hicks asks. “With the Black Employees’ inspiration, we introduced management resource planning in HR. A consistent, repeatable process was put in place and then cascaded.”

The groups foster significant informal mentoring, community outreach efforts and avenues for progressive policy change, Hicks reflects. A recent example was the Gay and Lesbian group’s successful effort to add transgender status to the company’s non-discrimination policy.

Outreach overlaps with recruiting. Hicks says Xerox offers 120 or more technical scholarships every year to encourage minorities to major in science and technical areas. Other diversity efforts include the Hispanic and black college liaison programs, which build relationships with technical departments on selected campuses, including twelve black-serving universities.

Xerox also participates in programs like the Urban League’s Scholars in Rochester, the Iberia Community for Hispanics, the Inroads program for talented minority interns, and the National Science Foundation’s program for women in engineering. Recruiters and professional people attend NSBE, SHPE and SWE conferences, both national and regional events.