DuPont Celebrates its Employees Transforming a Science Company through Diversity
Charles O. "Chad" Holliday, Jr.
Throughout 2002, DuPont is enjoying the extraordinary privilege of celebrating our 200th year of scientific achievement and innovation.
At our core is a science company—dedicated to the safe manufacture of thousands of products that improve the lives of people everywhere.
At our heart, you'll find 80,000 diverse employees worldwide—including 40,000 in the U.S. region—who, quite simply, are DuPont. They are the spirit behind our creativity and the soul behind our values. And they have forged more than 20 years of business and cultural transformation that have readied our company for the multicultural world of the new millennium.
In the last decades of the 20th century, DuPont transformed itself in terms of its understanding and application of diversity. Enormous demographic changes swept our nation, with minorities becoming the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population. DuPont became committed to attracting, developing, and retaining an energized, high-performing workforce. We expressed this diversity in our nationally recognized DuPont Legal Model, in our efforts to win the race for talent, in our supplier network, and in our compensation initiatives—to name a few.
And our learning is that across the board, diverse work teams yield better business solutions—and better bottom-line results.
Transformation: In the DNA
From our modest beginnings in 1802 as a manufacturer of black powder used for guns and blasting, to today's $24 billion company operating in 70 countries, DuPont employees have steered the company through several major business and cultural transformations as they anticipated new trends and captured new markets.
In terms of our product line, we don't look anything like the company that French immigrant Eleuthere Irenee du Pont founded on the banks of the Brandywine River in Wilmington, Delaware. Over time, black powder production yielded to overlapping eras of chemicals and polymers invention, the creation of new fibers and industrial films, and breakthroughs in biotechnology and other integrated sciences by the turn of the millennium. Today, DuPont delivers science-based solutions for markets that make a difference in people's lives in food and nutrition, health care, apparel, home and construction, electronics, and transportation.
Transforming a company with roots two centuries deep is not simple. But DuPont has always embraced change as a means to grow. While our culture honors our past, our imaginations are not bounded by it. Ingrained in our corporate DNA is the ability to anticipate change, to act on our colleagues' exciting ideas, and to learn from each other's differences along the way. Three constants run through our two centuries:
- science-based solutions serving the world's needs;
- the ability to transform ourselves as the world changes; and
- our corporate core values of respect for people, ethics, safety and health, and environmental stewardship.
Transforming the Legal Function
DuPont's 1991 decision to remove $1 billion in operating costs, corporate-wide, reverberated through the legal function. The result was its transformational DuPont Legal Model, introduced in 1992, which places strong emphasis on diversity.
The key element of the Model was a supplier convergence that took us from 350 law firms to 39 today, and the contraction of legal service providers from 150 to 9. Additionally, we required that the 39 primary law firms (PLFs) with whom we now partner commit to increasing diversity in their own firms—and to benchmarking their year-to-year progress in hiring, retention, and promotion of minorities and women.
To those who resist acknowledging the value of a diverse workforce until someone proves the quintessential business case, this is the data you've sought. In the 10 years since the Model's adoption, DuPont has realized millions of dollars in savings, reduced outside counsel costs, and substantially cut the docket of the legal function. The Model has been a resounding business success—both for DuPont and for our PLFs. Together, we are a network with a common vision and a unifying goal. Our PLFs are committed to being our strategic partners for the long haul; they no longer approach cases transactionally. The Model also features incentives and alternative fee structures that distribute risks and rewards—furthering the success of all parties.
The visionary yet practical DuPont Legal Model applied business discipline to the practice of law. It corrected the problems of rising legal costs, increasing lawsuits, and negative feedback from our business units, which had been unable to project legal costs rationally, year to year. It also made information technology work for us, and applied rigorous Six Sigma methodologies.
These principles and processes have substantially improved the practice of corporate law. A decade of empirical data serves to reconfirm that diversity drives better business decisions and better legal outcomes. And since we publicly shared our legal model (www.dupontlegalmodel.com), more than 160 companies from around the globe have approached us to learn how they can increase diversity and benefit similarly.
Transforming the Talent Race
From DuPont's perspective, to continue to be globally competitive our company must have an employee base that is as diverse as the customers who buy our products, the shareholders who buy our stock, the vendors who supply us with goods and services, and the communities in which we operate. Therefore, our mission is to recruit, develop, mentor, and retain employees of diverse backgrounds, with diverse experiences and skills. This effort must begin with senior management. Of the top 16 senior management positions in DuPont, three are filled with people of color or women. Several of these top leaders have been "experienced hires"—brought in from other companies at senior levels to add greater diversity of thought, talent, and experience. DuPont's board of directors is remarkably diverse, as well, with three women, one person of color, and three foreign nationals among its 13 members.
In terms of attracting top employee talent, we have a recruiting website that reflects the diversity of the company: www.dupont.com/careers. Additionally, for years DuPont has sent out diverse teams of recruiters to college campuses. For more than a decade, we've had a minority advertising program—in both national and student publications—that encourages technically trained minorities to explore career opportunities with us. Young engineers can choose to work in our Field Engineering Program that for the past 100 years has offered new hires several short assignments at various plant sites to expose them to a range of job opportunities before settling on a favored career path.
Often, the search for talent to fill the pipeline begins years before—through educational support. DuPont has funded scholarships and internships to support minority undergraduate and graduate students for more than three decades. For example, we work with the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) and the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science (GEM). Another rich source of talent is DuPont's own Student Employment Program, which includes both internships and co-op opportunities.
We also aim to keep talent through supportive mentoring programs—both informal and formal. We encourage employee diversity networks where those who share a common background or interest—such as race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or job family—grow professionally, share ideas, and find mentors. We also sponsor employee conferences for our key diversity networks. And looking at employees holistically, we offer a wide range of work-life programs to help employees balance their commitments to family along with their commitment to career.
Transforming Supplier Diversity
DuPont's diversity values also come to life through our supplier diversity program, "To Encourage Minority Purchasing Opportunities" (TEMPO). Created 29 years ago, TEMPO was among the first formalized attempts by any major U.S. company to deliver a significant increase in the identification and use of minority and women vendors.
Through TEMPO, DuPont purchases tens of thousands of goods and services annually to meet the needs of plants and office sites throughout the United States and around the world. While our early motivation for creating TEMPO was heavily influenced by our commitment to support positive social change, nearly three decades into the program, it is clear that our customers and demographics have made the need for TEMPO all the more compelling.
TEMPO has succeeded in creating business relationships with hundreds of suppliers in every aspect of business— from raw materials and information systems technology to engineering consulting and other professional services. In the last decade, DuPont's purchases from minority vendors have topped $3 billion. This is an outstanding performance, especially in an era of aggressive restructuring by our global markets.
As DuPont has become more global, some regions of the world have recognized the economic and social value of supplier diversity as well. The president of DuPont S.A. in South America recently complemented his internal diversity initiatives by implementing a program to develop under-utilized businesses into viable suppliers of DuPont S.A. In order to expand the concept's impact, he has become chairman of a nonprofit organization that works to increase the numbers of corporations with supplier diversity initiatives.
A key aspect of our approach is to integrate supplier diversity as early as practical into cutting- edge sourcing and business initiatives. To help effectuate this, the global sourcing leadership of each of DuPont's business units has accepted responsibility for leading TEMPO in their organizations. We are currently implementing a corporate Six Sigma project that will lead to significant increases in our purchases from minority business enterprises (MBEs). The project also ensures that MBEs will be active participants in our e-business efforts, including reverse auctions on the Internet. This upfront planning will generate an unprecedented volume of opportunities for MBEs.
Business owners interested in becoming a prospective DuPont minority supplier may apply at www.DuPont.com.
Transforming Compensation Concepts
Historically, at most companies, total compensation at managerial levels and above has been based strictly on business performance metrics.
At DuPont, this practice changed in the mid-nineties when we instituted Strategic Staffing Initiatives, through our human resources function. Our goal was simple: to benchmark where each business stood in terms of diversity, and encourage them to improve their population of underrepresented employees—people of color and women.
Since then, corporate leadership has been monitored yearly for their demonstrated results concerning diversity: recruitment, retention, individual development, professional progression, and succession planning.
Within DuPont's culture, we've come to understand that we measure what we value, and we value what we measure. Therefore, to put teeth into our diversity goals, we needed to institute metrics that would hold leaders accountable. While we're still not where we want to be, we can say with confidence that in the past seven years, we have had significantly improved our results.
Transforming for the Future
At the start of our third century, DuPont employees will tell you they expect the company to continue for yet another 10 generations of employees. That's our corporate DNA manifesting itself again: we firmly believe that our inherent ability to transform will continue to serve us, as we serve our customers and shareholders.
"We see employees more holistically, understand their work/life needs, and their need for professional support and mentoring."
The radically different external demographics over the past quarter-century have resulted in internal changes in our company. The anniversary year of 2002 finds us stronger, more flexible, and more resourceful. The increase in diversity has changed who we are, and with whom we do business. The atmosphere of collaboration pervading our company provides a more supportive environment for everyone. We see employees more holistically, understand their work/life needs, and their need for professional support and mentoring. We believe our transformation so far has helped ensure greater business as well as individual success.
Transformation is always a work in progress. The key is to commit to it and honor those commitments.
"Ingrained in our corporate DNA is the ability to anticipate change, to act on our colleagues' exciting ideas, and to learn from each other's differences along the way."
DuPont At A Glance
DuPont is a science company, delivering science-based solutions in markets such as food and nutrition, health care, apparel, home and construction, electronics and transportation.
Two hundred years ago, DuPont was primarily an explosives company. One hundred years ago, our focus turned to global chemicals, materials, and energy. Today, entering our third century, we deliver science-based solutions that make real differences in real lives. Look closely at the things around your home and, chances are, you'll find a DuPont imprint.
Our ability to adapt to change and our foundation of unending scientific inquiry enabled this two-century journey to becoming one of the world's most innovative companies. But, in the face of constant change, innovation and discovery, our core values have remained constant: commitment to safety, health and the environment, integrity and high ethical standards, and treating people with fairness and respect.
- 2001 Revenues: $24.7 billion.
- Net Income: $4.3 billion.
- Employees: 79,000. Approximately half work outside the United States.
- Global: Operating in 70 countries worldwide, with 135 manufacturing and processing facilities.
- R&D: More than 40 research and development and customer service labs in the U.S.; more than 35 labs in 11 other countries.
- Fortune 500: 70th largest U.S. industrial/service corporation.
- Chairman and CEO: Charles O. "Chad" Holliday, Jr. has been with DuPont for more than 30 years. Holliday has been chief executive officer since Feb. 1, 1998, and chairman since Dec. 31, 1998. He is a University of Tennessee graduate, and has a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering.
- Brands: Include Teflon® resins, SilverStone® non-stick finish, Lycra® brand spandex fiber, Stainmaster® stainresistant carpet, Antron® carpet fiber, Dacron® polyester fiber, Kevlar® brand fiber, Corian® solid surface material, Mylar® polyester films, Tyvek® brand protective material, and CoolMax® and Cordura® textile fibers.
From the November 2002 issue of Diversity & The Bar®