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National Research Council (US) Chemical Sciences Roundtable. Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2003.

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Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable.

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10Recruiting and Advancing Minority Scientists: Doing It Right

James D. Burke

Rohm and Haas Company (retired)


Let me begin by dedicating this contribution to the memory of Dr. Joseph Morris and Dr. Slayton Evans. Joe Morris began his career at DuPont and later headed the chemistry department at Howard University. His gift for reading people enabled him to become a mentor par excellence. He inspired many students to reach for dreams beyond their grasp and convinced them—sometimes by plain talk— that all they usually had to do to close the gap was to grow. Slayton Evans was in a class by himself. He saw things with great clarity. When he encountered something flawed, his response was not to dismiss it, but, if possible, to redeem it. Slayton was a gifted listener; and he stayed faithful to his calling as a teacher, mentor, and guide. Joe and Slayton were extraordinary men. We owe them a lot, and we miss them.

In my talk, I will start by relating affirmative action and diversity, and introduce the business value of diversity. Then I will discuss what some organizations do to improve their diversity through recruiting, employee development, and advancement. My comments will reflect my experience with my recent employer, Rohm and Haas Company, as well as my familiarity with other organizations.

Diversity is still such a new concept and business practice that little research exists that critiques its impact. However, its value seems intuitively obvious. Most employers are trying to understand what it can offer them. They engage employee groups to explore the opportunities and propose action plans. Then, like scientists, they try to apply a practical logic, learn from trial and error, and expect to be surprised. Wherever the ultimate expression of diversity may take us, the diversity journey is something no organization can afford to miss.


Diversity and affirmative action are like different sides of the same coin. Affirmative action uses the law of the land to ensure equal employment opportunity. It focuses on employees. It advocates resources for certain categories of employees to ease their path around obstacles to advancement because of racism or sexism. It seeks ultimately to secure their fair treatment by giving them a path around the institutional barriers that others do not face.

Although affirmative action has achieved much progress, it has been resisted in organizations where management has not challenged the majority's belief that affirmative action creates opportunities for certain employees at the expense of others. Management has too often been passive in helping employees to recognize that team success comes through cooperation and mutual support and that when individual team members are strengthened, the entire team is strengthened.

Diversity achieves the same ends as affirmative action but by a different path. Diversity is a deliberate business strategy to incorporate a spectrum of human resources and perspectives into the organization, with the goal of creating opportunity and competitive advantage for the business. The focus is on using diversity to improve the workforce, innovation, and customer appeal, and thus to advance the employer. The “war for talent” has successfully challenged conventional wisdom because the labor pool is changing. Minority groups entering the labor market now represent, in aggregate, the new majority. Companies must make themselves visible to the new majority as preferred employers, because people will choose to work where others like them are visible as leaders.

Companies are beginning to see a linkage between diversity and innovation. Diverse product teams foster intellectual diversity. When you surround problems with different and complementary perspectives, the solutions are more likely to be richer and more widely applicable. In other words, divergence in information gathering will lead to better convergent decisions. General Motors attributes the success of its Saturn vehicle to the diversity of its product design team. Intel also assembled its celebrated Pentium chip design team with diversity in mind.

Diversity enlarges the very notion of customer. Employers cannot help seeing the increasing diversity of their customer base. Customers want products and services designed by companies that understand their needs and respect their diversity. Who can do this better than employees with links to their communities and cultures? It seems inescapable that any company whose customers live in different cultures and different nations ought to have a workforce that is a microcosm of the world it seeks to serve. Companies have come to realize that you can sell only in the language of the customer.

Employers must give careful attention to articulating the business value of diversity to their employees to make sure everyone understands the benefits. It is a tool for creating openness and influencing organizations. Top management must be visible in promoting diversity. It needs champions at the executive level and at the unit level, where hiring occurs. Middle management, where immediate needs and long-term goals can clash, is the battleground. Managers must attack the notion that diversity is somehow in conflict with meritocracy, that it implies softer standards for reward and advancement. Efforts to broaden and transform the organization's future through diversity should be a performance element for managers.

Diversity gives new life to organizations. Incorporating diversity into the organization vitalizes it. If the organization works at eliminating all barriers to talent, the new employees will transform the organization. By contrast, the corporate mission of assimilation, avidly pursued in the 1970s and 1980s, was merely a digestive process to herd new employees into organization uniformity. Through it, organizations could indeed grow but they could not be transformed. Diversity has become a corporate core value and, indeed, a means of survival and growth. It is no longer an option to be pursued “when we can afford it.” How does your corporate culture view diversity? What are you willing to try in the name of nondisruptive change? Management will get what it accepts.


Next, let us explore what companies do to achieve a vibrant workforce through diversity. I will begin with recruiting, then discuss employee development practices, and conclude with advancement practices and an example of diversity paying dividends.


About 20 years ago I became involved with a group of 10 or 12 research managers and scientists at Rohm and Haas who regularly met to discuss minority recruiting. We called ourselves the Research Division Minority Recruiting Committee. It was a study group to understand the minority recruiting process and make recommendations to me, since I was the recruiting manager. The effort originated with Dr. Jim Clovis, a research director who was years ahead of his peers in valuing diversity. Because I knew this group was ultimately for my benefit, I thought it advisable to be a member. The managers were mostly white but included an African American and a Mexican American. All the scientists were minorities. The group included men and women who were B.S., M.S., or Ph.D. chemists. On the committee, we were equals and all were expected to speak up. Slayton Evans was a consultant for our group.

As a result of several discussions, we finally parsed the minority recruiting process into four separate stages: identifying candidates, attracting them to the organization, interviewing and making them offers, and getting them started. In outline, it is like any other recruiting process. The difference lies in the details.

Identifying Candidates

Our focus was on students because, at that time, most of our new employees came to us through campus recruiting. We had learned from observing other employers that, if you wait until their year of graduation to identify students, you will have already lost the best ones to your competitors. Thus, we decided to expand our college relations programs with a few chemistry departments in historically black college and university (HBCU) institutions of particular interest to us. Key elements of the program were

  • unrestricted funds for the department,
  • grants to support the research of specific faculty,
  • donations of equipment,
  • faculty seminar visits to our site,
  • visits to the departments by our scientists who would present seminars and instruct students in advanced instrumental techniques, and
  • internships and summer employment for students.

In every department where we recruited, our representatives were expected to identify the minority students—whatever their academic year—and become acquainted with them. At MIT, one of our engineering managers became prominent in supporting and mentoring minority engineering student groups. We became active participants in NOBCChE and the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc., fellowship program. Our involvements were intended to get us introduced early to students and their educators. These efforts generated a stream of excellent minority students as summer employees, many of whom we later recruited.

Attracting Candidates

Possibly the most important tool for companies to use in attracting a pool of promising diversity candidates is an appealing summer employment program. In organizing it, the company should seek a critical mass of minority summer employees so that they can also organize their own social community for life outside working hours. If companies design social events into summer employment programs, their minority employees should lead the effort. The objective is to make each summer employee, who may be far from home, feel personally welcomed and respected. A company also benefits by engaging the community and the locale, with their cultural and recreational opportunities, to attract the students as future employees.

An effective summer employment program will have minority students participate in essential work so that their presence will not be perceived as a part of a corporate social mission. Their jobs should be fair tests of their current knowledge and give them opportunities to reinforce what they have learned in the classroom.

We sought to employ students after their freshman or sophomore year as technical assistants. More advanced students were given independent project work, with their managers offering guidance, supervising at an appropriate level, and making sure the students saw how their work fit into the larger team effort. At the end of their terms, upper-division students were expected to present written and oral reports on their work. Coaching beforehand and critique afterward made their seminars a developmental experience. We made employment offers to standout rising seniors as they returned to school and gave them the fall semester to interview other employers before deciding.

Every student employee should be assigned a mentor. We found that matching the mentor and student by race and gender has some obvious value, but less than providing a mentor who is competent and sincerely interested in guiding the student. Using regularly scheduled appointments with the student, the mentor should

  • exhort and guide the student to demonstrate professional excellence,
  • show him or her how to get things done with and through others,
  • make sure the student connects with the professional work community by attending appropriate seminars,
  • stimulate his or her thinking on career issues, and
  • arrange for the student to be invited to eat with the regular employees.

This last point is important because, too often, minority summer employees will eat by themselves because it is a comfortable thing to do. However, getting together with the regular workers benefits both groups. The mentor should also speak up for the student and collaborate with the manager to ensure a successful summer work experience. In return, the company should recognize mentors for the value they add.

For summer employment programs to contribute effectively to the organization's candidate pipeline and maintain credibility with the academic community and professional societies, they should have continuity. They should not suffer when economic hard times occur. Companies must stay the course with their investments in summer programs, internships, and aid to colleges. Their cost, as a fraction of the corporate budget, is insignificant. Companies that hold diversity as a core value find the money to sustain their summer employment and other outreach programs. They make them succeed, even when budgets are tight.

Through summer employment and internship programs, employers help to develop the general pool of candidates. Each employer contributes to the students' practical education and helps them get ready for professional life. Some managers express frustration when other employers later hire candidates whom they helped to develop—even though they hire candidates who had been summer employees elsewhere. However, while they are your summer employees, you have a unique opportunity to influence them and predispose them to become your employees later, if circumstances permit. Even if they choose to work elsewhere, they may still speak up for your company within their organizations and in their communities, provided you have treated them with respect, given them work that challenged them to develop, and offered the resources to do so. Properly managed, minority summer employment programs always earn their way and are often worth more than expected. Our summer program was very good, and it had to be. We were well aware of the fine programs in place at DuPont, Procter & Gamble, Union Carbide, Dow, Amoco, and other leading companies competing for the same talent.

Candidate Interviews and Offers

Looking back at our recruiting practices in the mid-1980s, I think we were somewhat complacent, like many successful companies at the time. We were hiring a lot of talent. And yet we were not satisfied with the quality or quantity of our minority job candidates. We did not know whether the candidate pool was at fault—we thought it was thin—or if we simply did not understand it. We had almost resigned ourselves to just trying harder to meet our goals, when someone offered this insightful question that suggested we change our approach. Suppose you were a job candidate coming to interview for a job with a group of people who did not look like you, did not grow up like you, and did not understand how you felt about some basic issues. What specific things could the employer do to make you feel welcome and at home? We took this question and turned it around: What should we do, how should we respond if an important person, but someone we had never met, was coming to visit?

We decided we would make respect and hospitality priorities. In our pilot effort, we designed our interviews—especially site interviews—of minority scientists and engineers with hospitality and respect in mind. Instead of treating them as a series of candidates, each one would be welcomed as a company guest. Also, there would be no softening of standards for excellence. If anything, we felt that high standards would be taken as a mark of respect, and a good candidate would respond well to them.

Then along came Total Quality Leadership (TQL), a management improvement program developed by W. Edwards Deming. You will recall that Japanese automobile manufacturers used TQL principles to transform their inferior products into the worldwide leading products that remain today. TQL was unique because it used statistical analysis to study problem processes. As scientists, we found that approach appealing.

We organized a team of research managers and scientists for a meticulous TQL study of our Ph.D. recruiting processes. What we discovered was disconcerting: We were causing every one of our problems, and we urgently redesigned all of our recruiting programs. Without going into all the changes we made, let me simply note that respect and hospitality were installed as bedrock principles. Thus, as often happens, a conscious attempt to vitalize a program for minorities resulted in transforming the program for all. The quality of the candidates we hired, including that of minorities, improved significantly; so did our acceptance rate. Slayton said he was impressed.

Regarding offers, we sought to offer a competitive salary, but never top dollar. We believe money should be a wash issue so that candidates will focus on more important items, e.g., the appeal and challenge of the job, the resources and opportunities provided, and the quality of life on and off the job. We contracted with relocation consultants who were cognizant of diversity issues to address the off-the-job aspects for us. We also recognized our obligation to welcome the candidate's family during the interview process. If the spouse had employment or career needs, or if children had special needs, these were addressed.

Tracking Talent

Let me return for a moment to the topic of identifying candidates. Everyone recognizes that minorities in chemistry and chemical engineering curricula remain an underrepresented group. So, where do you find them? Only a few universities, such as Georgia Institute of Technology, Howard University, and LSU, have a critical mass of minority Ph.D. students. Like everyone else, we developed our list of preferred sources whom we visited every year. Nevertheless, extra effort was and still is needed. We have found the employment fairs of NOBCChE and National Society of Black Engineers helpful, and occasionally those at American Chemical Society (ACS) national meetings. We always welcomed write-ins, faculty referrals, and employee referrals, recognizing that talent is everywhere. The Graduate Education for Minorities and ACS Scholars programs are excellent sources if you wish to invest time and funds to support their fine students.

There is currently much discussion about how few women and minorities are on chemistry and chemical engineering faculties, especially in the top 50 departments. Every large company I know seeks to identify and attract minority candidates early. Some who are completing their doctoral programs we first knew as college sophomores. One wonders how many more minority chemists and chemical engineers would opt for academic careers if universities tracked them as avidly as companies do.

Orientation of Diversity Employees

For many organizations, orientation is a short, mechanical process that involves signing the employment agreement, safety indoctrination, and a review of the work rules and practices of the site and new employee's department. These are necessary functions but, if there is nothing more to orientation, the new employee may feel disappointed. When done right, orientation programs will address a variety of needs for the new employee and the organization. They help to

  • welcome new employees,
  • inform new employees that they are valued within the organization,
  • reinforce positive impressions about the employer,
  • validate the employee's decision to join the organization,
  • provide basic organizational information,
  • help new employees understand their jobs and managers' expectations,
  • communicate performance standards,
  • help bring employees into the organization's culture, and
  • set the stage for training and early development.1

Orientation programs present many opportunities for organizations to re-recruit their new employees and make all of them understand the commitment to diversity.


Organizations take different approaches to employee development. Deeply embedded and venerated corporate values frame what is possible and not possible for employees. If an organization values teamwork as critical, one can expect it to offer training in utilizing diversity as a tool to develop more effective teams. However, if an organization has always promoted success through individual effort and independent activity, offering training programs for adding value though diversity-based teams will seem inconsistent.

Although many companies have excellent developmental programs for employees, few have modules designed specifically for minorities, although minorities may have special issues that need to be addressed. For example, a recent study indicated that African American college graduates in entry-level jobs experience more underemployment and less job satisfaction than other groups.2 When orientation programs do not address diversity issues, mentors must do so individually.

No matter what values may drive an organization, there are common training areas that all employers should cover. First, one must recognize that college does not train students for the transition to work. In fact, it countertrains them. College is a different world, where the culture and the process for succeeding are so unlike those of the workplace that even the best students will struggle if left to figure things out by themselves. They will focus on applying task-related knowledge and skills, whereas management will be more interested in the new employees succeeding at the nontask elements of their jobs. Task training may be necessary for some, but lack of skills is rarely the reason why employees fail. Management must step up and lead their new employees with integrated training.3

The first year of employment sets the tone for the career. The link between initial work experience and employee commitment is well known.4 More than anything, initial job challenge is the issue.5 Organizations need to look carefully at new employees' jobs to ensure they offer challenge, so that the employees will feel they are utilizing their talents and abilities. Effective early (first-year) development programs have the following key elements:

  • The organization makes early development a priority.
  • Early development is an ongoing and structured process.
  • Early development begins when the candidate accepts the offer, not the first day of work.
  • Early development involves conversation and interaction at all levels of the organization.
  • Early development extends through the first year.
  • Early development presents goals for nontask as well as task performance.
  • Early development teaches everyone in the work unit how to collaborate for a successful first year.

First-year development programs should focus on four areas. The program must help in developing skills at the following levels:

The Individual

  • Fostering the right attitudes.
  • Managing new employees' expectations.
  • Cultivating ice-breaking skills.


  • Teaching impression management skills.
  • Building effective relationships.
  • Teaching good “followership.”


  • Helping new employees to understand the organizational culture.
  • Helping them to adapt to the organization's way of doing things.
  • Helping them to understand their roles.

Work Tasks

  • Help new employees to become work savvy.
  • Help them to master the tasks of their jobs.
  • Help them to acquire the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for recognition.

Success-Building Attitudes

It is essential for new employees to come with the right set of attitudes. The following are attitudes that will serve new employees well:

  • Humility: accepting the value of being in a new learning environment
  • Adaptability: being receptive to new assignments or training, whenever feasible
  • Flexibility: willing to set new personal goals, open to change
  • Respect: recognizing the talents of others and the value they bring
  • Perspective: understanding the company's goals and their role in achieving them
  • Work ethic: going all out, starting on time, and staying focused
  • Positive attitude: learning from everything, without complaint


New employees also need mentors. Consistent with the goals of early development programs, the mentor should explain to the employee

  • organizational politics—how to get things done within the system,
  • the need to work with and through others,
  • success through cooperation not competition, and
  • how others perceive the employee (but only if the employee asks for it).

Later Development

When new employees have progressed satisfactorily through their first year or two and are now respected as professionals by their employers, they need appropriate resources for development in their new career stage.6 Employees need mentors all the way through. They must recognize that professional life is a process based on sponsorship and that mentors are their sponsors. Having a mentor is a visible sign of inclusion.

Professionals also need a professional community, where members gather to make one another successful. Rohm and Haas has one for its research scientists and another for its engineers. We also encouraged membership in ACS, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and Society of Women Engineers. Additionally, minority employees benefit from membership in a professional community that addresses their particular issues, such as the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, NOBCChE, and American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

At Rohm and Haas, the Global Black Employees Network (GBEN) began through initiatives of African American professional employees. Its mission is to offer solidarity, mentoring, and career information to its members. A large fraction of these, incidentally, are active members of NOBCChE and thus expect such resources from employers. In the GBEN, mentoring takes several forms. There is traditional top-down mentoring. Considerable peer mentoring also occurs as an expression of the members' commitment to one another's success. Finally, there is “mentoring up,” whereby the members offer perspective on diversity and other issues to the highest levels of management.

The GBEN has official status at Rohm and Haas. Its rotating leadership, elected by the group, is responsible for maintaining the conduit to top management and for organizing the annual networking conference. The corporate executive officer and chief operating officer take turns giving the annual conference's keynote address. They devote plenty of time to meet with attendees and exchange information. The conference also features a motivational talk and numerous forums with business value.

Although 2001 was a dismal economic year for Rohm and Haas, as it was for most chemical companies, the GBEN conference proceeded as scheduled. Its budget was not at risk. The company views the GBEN as a good investment. Participants obtain information and ideas, and they become more widely visible. By providing such recognition, the company expects to enhance the value of each member to the organization and to improve the retention of its minority workforce. It also gives top management immediate acquaintance with some of the rising stars.

Corporate Programs for Developing and Advancing Diversity Employees

Companies seek ways to expedite the advancement of diversity employees. At Bristol-Myers Squibb, to induce managers to place diversity candidates in job openings, an “Evergreen Fund” was created that would subsidize a department with up to a year of a minority employee's salary in exchange for a commitment to retain that employee in the job afterwards. Also at Bristol-Myers Squibb, senior management recognized that too few minorities were advancing to upper ranks. In response, they changed the leadership profile to a military officer model. The Corporate Associates Program annually hired three or four minority officers leaving military service. These were assigned to two years of rotational programs, after which they could choose a permanent job or go off to business school, as an employee, for the M.B.A. degree and then come back. The proviso was that the employee would repay the tuition over time and work for Bristol-Myers during the summer between the first and second year. Otherwise, there were no strings. Most did come back.

Catalyst is a New York organization that promotes women's issues in business. A few years ago, it recognized Procter & Gamble's Mentoring-Up Program, which assigned 30-40 senior executives to work with up-and-coming women employees as their mentors. The women, in turn, were assigned to educate them about the needs of up-and-coming women employees and how to respond to them. It alerts organizations; opportunities abound for mentoring up, down, and horizontally.

Companies now participate in diversity strategy consortia, to work diversity issues in common and develop best practices for application by the group's members. As one of their participants said to me, “Diversity is a journey; know where you want to go and expect to be surprised.”

I close by bringing my presentation full circle, with an example of how investing in diversity pays off. I have a friend, an African American scientist whom I helped to recruit nearly 20 years ago. During his years as a college student and later as an early graduate student, Peter received critically important mentoring from Joe Morris. He is now an executive, and will likely move to a higher level within the next few years. We had a conversation recently about the value that his diversity brings. He sees his contribution having two main dimensions.

Peter recently served as the senior manager of one of Rohm and Haas's overseas units for several years. By virtue of being a black executive, while other companies' leaders there were Caucasian or Asian, he recognized that he was uniquely situated as an ambassador, to influence the way other global organizations regarded his employer. He acted accordingly, and succeeded. Within the company, his diversity enables him to educate, motivate, and mentor others differently. By virtue of the individuality, talents, and culture that he brings to the workplace, he is helping to shape a different and better future for his company than it might experience without him.

And that is what investment in diversity is all about. It is a powerful resource to build a different and better future for all of us.

Acknowledgment. In addition to the sources cited, I am indebted to Dr. Carleton Barbour, Mr. Joseph Forish, and Dr. Peter Holmes of the Rohm and Haas Company for important contributions to this presentation.


Tyrone D. Mitchell, National Science Foundation: Do you think that the programs that reward white managers with bonuses for doing the right thing in recruiting minorities puts a lot of pressure on minorities, in terms of backlash, and from other managers who do not get those rewards?

James D. Burke: That is a good question. I guess it depends on how you do it. If the message is clearly communicated from the top that this is where the organization is going—that as a manager you are expected to support and promote it, it will be a performance element for you, and you do not have a lot of wiggle room—then you do it.

If managers do not want to go along, then their jobs as managers are at risk. I can also say that when I was at Rohm and Haas, I once saw a Ph.D. employee fired because he was chronically disrespectful to a diversity employee of a lower level. That got attention. So you do what it takes. You would rather reward, but sometimes you just need to do what it takes to get their attention.

Robert L. Lichter, The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation: You and Rohm and Haas—and I presume that these programs and commitments are continuing even after your departure—are to be commended for setting lots of examples from which universities could learn. But I do want to issue one caution. It gets back to language. We talked about it a little bit yesterday. The expression “diversity employee” or “diversity candidate” is replete with all kinds of potentially negative implications. I caution against using that expression.

Also, the array of programs and activities you have for new employees would be great to have as part of graduate education.

James D. Burke: In 1988, there was a symposium by the ACS, and its mission was to try to get graduate school Ph.D. programs to be four years. It was in New Orleans, and I was one of the speakers.

One of the things that I was advocating was to introduce this kind of training at the beginning of graduate school. You do not need to create special orientation courses. Nor do students need to take business classes in order to understand what chemical businesses do. Students need only to read the Wall Street Journal and Chemical & Engineering News regularly.

No one from any chemistry department known to me has invited faculty from the business school to give a seminar on the nature of the chemical business. It is amazing that this never happens, for often, the business school is just down the street.

I think there is a shared mission here. Faculty who are concerned about the readiness of students should, even if they are in other departments, make themselves available to teach the students. I think we employers must also step up and help. It would be best for us to act concertedly, rather than individually. Instead of chemical employers going to campus merely with presentations promoting our organizations, it would be better if we could cooperatively design a lecture series covering basic training issues and share the responsibility for its presentation. Students and faculty would then understand that there are common issues that employers hold important, even if we approach them in different ways.

William M. Jackson, University of California, Davis: First, I would like to acknowledge and commend Rohm and Haas as a company. Back when NOBCChE was founded, they gave us the initial seed money for the organization. So I have known about them a long time.

Secondly, I would like to say that I think I know the guy that you were talking about, because he was in my class. He was probably the only organic chemist who was better than any of the physical chemistry students we had in the class. I tried to lure him into physical chemistry, but he was always smarter than I was and stayed in organic chemistry.

I would like to say that I think we in universities can learn from some of the things that you said. When I went to the University of California, I went to a new-faculty orientation program that they had. I had never had an orientation at any of the other places that I had worked in government, industry, or universities. I had about 15 years experience by that time.

This orientation program was interesting because it gave you a chance to learn something about the culture of the university. Unfortunately, when budget cuts come at a university, these are the things that get cut off. That is one lesson I have learned. I think it is probably a good idea not to cut these things out.

But the other thing that I learned, and it is not always followed, at the orientation they made it very clear that we in the University of California do not recruit people to fire them. In other words, when we recruit an assistant professor we do so with the expectation that he or she will achieve tenure. It is actually one of the duties of the chair of the department to mentor junior faculty toward tenure. Not all chairs do this. Some of them are very detached. But the deans should be able to insist on more of this kind of mentoring, since they are supposed to be monitoring chairs anyway.

There are things that the universities can do to emulate what has been done in industry. For example, the University of California had a minority postdoctoral program, which unfortunately was cut out because of Proposition 209. That program prepared several minorities for tenure track positions at the University of California, Davis. This program also helped prepare other minorities for such positions at other universities.

These kinds of programs work. They help to increase the diversity in the university. They can be done in ways that do not put stigma on the people involved.

James D. Burke: Thank you. I just wanted to comment on that too. There are a lot of examples around about why diversity makes things better. The one that any American ought to be able to understand is professional sports. If diversity works with sports, why not elsewhere?

D. Ronald Webb, Procter & Gamble: Very good talk. I enjoyed it. I just wanted to pick up on one thing you said that I did not mention in my presentation, and I want to echo it here because it is important. In attracting a diverse workforce, you cannot lower the bar and you cannot lower expectations. It might work to get someone in the door, but the reality is, as time goes by, everyone is compared with their peers. If they cannot keep up, it will become obvious. They will be unhappy, we will be unhappy, and it does not work.

Having said that, we are talking about models that work in bringing about a diverse workforce. As a doctoral recruiter at Procter & Gamble, I see about a hundred applications for every person we hire. We typically focus on identifying the top four or five candidates to eventually extend one job offer. I submit that the distinctions between the top four or five people out of a hundred applicants are very subtle.

My point is that we will commonly see a woman or a person of color among our top five candidates. However, if the tendency of the hiring manager is to go for the majority person, i.e., the white male, they can justify the decision by stating they hired the “best” person. I submit this can be a case of subtle bias, because we are talking about fine distinctions between individuals at this point of the hiring process. What you need to do is give people chances. It is not necessarily taking risks, because overall their skills and experiences may be very much alike. What you want to do is open up your mind to change and let other people who might not have been picked previously have a chance to be offered a position.

James D. Burke: One of the things that we ended up having to do with our recruiters was to say, “If you have a strong candidate and you want to see the person interviewed, for heaven's sake, in your report, will you ‘sell' the individual, and not just talk about what they did.” Make it irresistible for a manager to say, “I want to have this person in.



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Copyright © 2003, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK36316


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