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Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future (2002)

Chapter: Diversity Practices at Motorola

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Suggested Citation:"Diversity Practices at Motorola." National Academy of Engineering. 2002. Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10377.
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Diversity Practices at Motorola

IWONA TURLIK

Corporate Vice President and Director

Motorola Advanced Technology Center

I would like to share with you my perspective as an engineer and manager at Motorola where we try to go beyond the numbers that represent the traditional definitions of diversity. Our definition takes into account a wide range of human attributes, such as thinking styles, age, experience, education, geographic origin, economic status, language, religion, lifestyles, and sexual orientation, as well as gender, ethnicity, and disability. As the manager of facilities in Brazil, Germany, China, and the United States, I know that perspectives on diversity are very closely related to culture. Today, I will focus on diversity from the perspective of a manager working in the United States for a U.S. corporation.

Our goal at Motorola is to create a globally diverse business environment and to be recognized by our customers, shareholders, employees, and communities as the premier company for which to work, from which to buy products, and in which to invest. Having a diverse organization results in a stronger business. Diversity is not about employing more women; it is about being a better company that can find better solutions. At Motorola we appreciate different ways of looking at an issue. Our mission is very simple: to ensure the long-term success of the company by empowering “Motorolans” with diverse backgrounds, styles, cultures, and abilities to turn global diversity into a competitive advantage. To be a successful company (after all, what really counts is what your stakeholders think about your business), you need experienced employees with diverse backgrounds.

What is Motorola’s alignment and talent strategy? If you look at the list in Table 1, you’ll notice that it is not much different from what other companies do. We focus on benefits, awards, and retention. With a diverse workforce, managing employee benefits is not a simple issue because you must offer different packages

Suggested Citation:"Diversity Practices at Motorola." National Academy of Engineering. 2002. Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10377.
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TABLE 1 Motorola Alignment and Talent Strategy Framework

Global marketplace

Advancement of women and minorities (integration at all levels)

Diversity of management team

Cultural awareness and acceptance

Integration of individuals with disabilities

Work/life integration

Benchmarking

Excellence as a measure to evaluate global diversity

Equity in expansions or contractions of the workforce

Understanding of local markets and quick action in attracting talent (localization of market demand)

Mentoring/networking

Employee wellness program

Measurement and management accountability

Talent management

Talent pipeline initiative

Supplier diversity programs

Minority conferences/recruitment

Motorola business councils

Work policies such as flexible schedules, telecommuting

Benefits

Awards

Retention

Training

Communication strategy

Community involvement

Motorola Foundation grants

to different employee populations. Awards are a way of encouraging people to stay, but if one focuses only on awards, retention can be a very expensive proposition. Today it is very important to ensure equity when business conditions require the expansion or contraction of the workforce. If you think about the challenges technology businesses, such as Motorola, are currently undergoing, it becomes apparent that the makeup of the engineering workforce is a critical factor.

Why do we focus on women and minorities? For Motorola’s engineering community, the answer is very simple. In the next few years, we will need a larger resource pool. Women and minorities are part of the pool from which we will be drawing for the next 10 years to expand our engineering capabilities as a company. We must do the right things in this area to continue to be competitive. A study of Fortune 500 companies by Covenant Investment Management shows that the average annualized return on investment for companies committed to promoting minority and women workers was 18.3 percent over a five-year period, compared with only 7.9 percent for companies with “glass ceilings.” That is the bottom line of the business case.

Suggested Citation:"Diversity Practices at Motorola." National Academy of Engineering. 2002. Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10377.
×

TABLE 2 Greatest Perceived Obstacles to Career Advancement

 

Under 30

Age 30 to 39

Age 40 to 49

Age 50 and over

Women

1

Discrimination

Balancing work/home

Economy

Discrimination

2

Unappreciated

Economy

Discrimination

Poor management

3

Economy/poor management

Discrimination

Balancing work/home

Economy

Men

1

Economy

Economy

Economy

Economy

2

Poor management

Poor management

Poor management

Poor management

3

Personal skills

Personal direction

Personal drive

Discrimination

 

SOURCE: National Academy of Engineering. 1999. The Summit on Women in Engineering Resource Book. Washington D.C.: National Academy of Engineering.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2006 the proportion of white males in the workforce will decline to 44 percent, while the proportion of white females will increase to almost 40 percent. The proportion of African-American females will increase to 6.2 percent, which is 35 percent more than it was in 1976. Latino representation in the workforce will increase to 4.8 percent, which is 78 percent greater than it was in 1976. If we look at population growth, we can see that the numbers vary by ethnic background. This leads us to ask what we can do so that Motorola can grow with these growing populations.

Table 2 shows the different perceptions of females and males about work. Until you understand the differences, it will be difficult to take action to improve the situation. Women in every age category perceive discrimination as a career obstacle. Men over 50 also perceive discrimination as an obstacle. Regardless of whether or not these perceptions are true, they affect the performance of employees in your company.

What do we do at Motorola to improve retention and advancement? First, we try to include diversity in all of our strategic business plans. Catalyst has recognized Motorola for doing a very, very good job in evaluating and promoting people to senior management positions. However, before individuals can be promoted, they have to be prepared to succeed. Training is a very important aspect of an employee’s career path. To help us identify and sponsor candidates for development, Motorola established a special human resources task force to develop systems for selecting and promoting qualified individuals, especially minorities. We have found that there is a fine line between giving individuals an opportunity and promoting them too soon, which can have serious negative consequences. Promotions should take place when employees are ready. Promotions

Suggested Citation:"Diversity Practices at Motorola." National Academy of Engineering. 2002. Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10377.
×

must be fair, for both majority and minority employees. More time should be spent preparing minorities for senior positions because there are fewer of them and because they sometimes require different experiences. The network may also be slightly different. In short, we must be careful that we do not promote too soon and that we promote fairly.

What would we like to accomplish through our diversity efforts? If we are successful, the most qualified women and minority engineers will stay with Motorola. Women and minority engineers will rise without barriers through corporate and organizational ranks, based on their personal talents, interests, and ethics. Overall, the number of engineers will remain at a healthy level and will reflect a vibrant, multicultural workforce, and Motorola will be recognized as a leader in providing diversity in the engineering workforce.

What have we done at Motorola? I would like to share with you one of the insights that occurred to me during the meetings of the NAE Forum on Diversity. Being an engineer and knowing the cycle time for an engineering design, I am used to things changing very rapidly. In contrast, cultural change is a slow process. Trying to change the culture of an organization and making a lasting impact means you really have to view things from a different perspective. You have to focus on something and make a start.

We did a focus group study at one of the Motorola labs I manage in the United States. The lab has 75 employees. Thirty-six employees were randomly assigned to be part of five focus groups on diversity-related topics. The first question was: What factors contribute to your overall job satisfaction in the Motorola Advanced Technology Center? The participants had several answers, such as “ideas are always welcome” and “there is a lot of freedom and openness for engineers’ creativity.” They also mentioned respect for peers and coworkers, the cultural mix, including women, welcoming and friendly people and interaction. Clearly, diversity was important even though no one specifically mentioned “diversity.” Being open and including people from different cultures is more important than having specific numbers of women and minorities in your organization.

The second question was: Do we recognize people fairly well? I was very pleased with the answer from my team on this point. My senior management is very sensitive to recognizing people when they make an impact. I think that this is the most important kind of recognition. If you recognize contributions at the right time and in the right place, everybody benefits, and the organization becomes much better.

We also spend a lot of time on personal career growth in the organization. This is a simple business case. It can be compared to an engineering design. If you spend a lot of time up front before you move to the final design, your results will be much, much stronger. I believe in sitting down with my employees and talking about what they would like to have and where they want their careers to go. We all know that career plans usually can’t be realized exactly as planned,

Suggested Citation:"Diversity Practices at Motorola." National Academy of Engineering. 2002. Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10377.
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TABLE 3 Motorola Diversity Awards

100 Best Companies for Working Mothers (1992–2000), Working Mother

The Best Companies to Work for and Why (1992–2000), National Society of Black Engineers

Executive Director’s Award for Community Partnership (2000), National Society of Black Engineers Bridge Legacy Program

Hispanic Corporate 100 List (2000), Hispanic Magazine

Pride in Excellence Employer of the Year Award (2000), Project Equality, Inc.

Secretary of Labor’s Opportunity 2000 Award, U.S. Department of Labor

Top 100 Employers of the Class of 2000, The Black Collegian

Top 50 Companies for Diversity (2001), DiversityInc.com

Top Gay-Friendly Public Companies in Corporate America for 2001, The Gay Financial Network

America’s Top 50 Corporations (2001), Div2000.com

Corporation of the Year (2001), National Society of Hispanic MBAs

2001 “Outie” Award for significant achievement, Out and Equal Workplace Advocates

NOTE: For more information on Motorola’s awards related to diversity, see <http://www.motorolacareers.com/ufsd2/diversity/awards.cfm>.

but good dialogue is a good way to keep the organization strong and growing. I really liked the last response, which was that there is something very special about our organization. I think the most important thing is that we are really inclusive and open; at the same time, we complete our milestones and meet the goals the corporation sets for us.

We asked the focus groups if they feel that employees, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, are treated fairly by peers, supervisors, and managers. One response was that we have the most diverse organization they have seen. Another response was that we have a good mix of people. We don’t favor any special group; we favor very good performance. We are not judgmental, and we have an open-door policy. The lab works well because of the diversity and exposure to different cultures. People are open-minded and treat each other with respect. These are simple, small steps an organization can take to be more successful. There is no magic behind it. Responsiveness and strong leadership involve more than simply measuring the minority numbers.

We also asked how they felt about diversity business councils. The response was that they contribute to networking and awareness, but some employees were not sure what the councils do. Employees also wanted to know why only certain groups had business councils. If an employee is already comfortable and functioning well in a diverse environment, he or she might not feel the need to

Suggested Citation:"Diversity Practices at Motorola." National Academy of Engineering. 2002. Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10377.
×

associate with a special group, might not want to be singled out in that way. Other employees thought that diversity councils were mostly social functions but that the opportunity to hear others’ perceptions was beneficial. It works both ways. If we didn’t have the councils, we wouldn’t have the networking. If you look at the end result, it might seem that a small organization that is very diverse might not need the councils. I would say the opposite—in most organizations, business councils play a very important role, and they should be supported.

Finally, we asked our employees for suggestions for improving our diversity programs. Some said we didn’t need to do anything more because we are already diverse. In my opinion, however, if you are not moving forward, you are losing ground. The focus group’s response indicated that they appreciated our very good, diverse organization but that not all groups in Motorola are as diverse as we are. Thus, there is still work to do. People might think there is not much to do, but I agree with one of the employees who said that we should market our diverse group to other Motorola organizations and to our management. In this way, we can promote the benefits of a diverse environment.

When it comes to diversity and related issues, Motorola is one of the very best companies for which to work, but we are not perfect. Even though we have won many major awards for diversity (Table 3), we still have plenty to do. Considering the number of women and minorities available in the workforce and the number of technologists Motorola will need in the next 10 years, we face a significant challenge.

Suggested Citation:"Diversity Practices at Motorola." National Academy of Engineering. 2002. Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10377.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Diversity Practices at Motorola." National Academy of Engineering. 2002. Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10377.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Diversity Practices at Motorola." National Academy of Engineering. 2002. Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10377.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Diversity Practices at Motorola." National Academy of Engineering. 2002. Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10377.
×
Page 27
Suggested Citation:"Diversity Practices at Motorola." National Academy of Engineering. 2002. Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10377.
×
Page 28
Suggested Citation:"Diversity Practices at Motorola." National Academy of Engineering. 2002. Diversity in Engineering: Managing the Workforce of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10377.
×
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This report contains fifteen presentations from a workshop on best practices in managing diversity, hosted by the NAE Committee on Diversity in the Engineering Workforce on October 29-30, 2001. NAE (National Academy of Engineering) president William Wulf, IBM vice-president Nicholas Donofrio, and Ford vice-president James Padilla address the business case for diversity, and representatives of leading engineering employers discuss how to increase the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women and underrepresented minorities in engineering careers. Other speakers focus on mentoring, globalization, affirmative action backlash, and dealing with lawsuits. Corporate engineering and human resources managers attended the workshop and discussed diversity issues faced by corporations that employ engineers. Summaries of the discussions are also included in the report.

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