Extraordinary Limits

The Diversity Dudes

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To make life better for women, Lockheed started with the old white guys.

 Having an African-American female as VP of diversity and inclusion could make Lockheed Martin look like it’s committed to all its employees—or practicing tokenism. Rania Washington will tell you her job is anything but PR.

“When we talk about our definition of diversity, it’s important that we’re talking about ‘all’ and we’re engaging ‘all,’ ” says Washington. “We believe diversity is not just about men and women, it’s not just about race – black and white. … We’re trying to elevate the conversation such that it includes everyone in the corporation. That has been extremely successful.”

Effective Leadership of Inclusive Teams, ELOIT, began in 2007 with the (no joke) White Male Caucus. The objective of the training is to help white male executives wrap their minds around what it means to be in a position of privilege.

Corporate diversity, not a PR tactic

“The folks (who) are talking about pay decisions, the folks (who) are talking about who’s going to be promoted, who’s going to the next level,” says Washington. “More than likely that conversation’s going to revolve around some male in the organization who’s going to have to talk about, ‘Am I going to promote this female? Am I going to ensure that I’m paying (her) equitably in comparison to all the employees on my staff?’

“Do I have leaders out there who don’t get it—or some would, say, haven’t drank the Kool-Aid yet? Yes, we do. But those are the ones that we continue to put roles models in front of, continue to provide examples and continue to hold accountable.”

Lockheed Martin works with a company called White Men as Full Diversity Partners to explain what white male culture is (yes, it is real) and how that compares to the experiences of pretty much anyone who is non-white male, or 15% of their workforce. The training proved to be successful, but it became clear that more white guys were needed, so directors and senior level managers are also being trained. To date 88% of the company’s VPs have completed an ELOIT Learning Lab. The target for 2015 is 90%.

And the program is working. Between 2004 and 2013, exempt female population at Lockheed increased from 19.8% to 23.6%. Senior female executives grew from 16.7% to 21.7%. Director-level females increased from 16.0% to 19.5%. Women’s representation on Lockheed Martin’s Board of Directors jumped from 13.0% to 33.0%. But the real proof is in the conference room.

‘Don’t behave like that’

Bob Gunning, VP of program management for missiles and fire control, describes a meeting at which a senior female leader hesitated to take a chair usually used by an older white man who had been with the company a long time. It was the last chair at the table. Gunning convinced her to sit. When the man walked in, he was visibly upset.

“He was pouting,” Gunning says. “I just ignored him. And then when there was a question that we deferred to him to answer, rather than answering it from the wall where he was sitting, he made the point of standing up, walking over behind this young lady, standing over her, like intimidating her, to give his answer. Then he went back and sat down. After the meeting I called him over. I said, ‘Don’t do that again. She has as much right to sit there as you do. I get it, you sat there for 10 years, but I don’t care. Don’t behave like that. That’s not how we’re trying to run this place.’

“When things like that happen they get the message. ….You just have to make people accountable for it.”

Gunning was able to make the point, and change the mind of yet another white guy. © Margo Pierce

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