Valuing Diversity, Part 2 Print E-mail
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Written by Susan Mucha   
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 15:08



Diversity programs don’t have to be overhead-intensive, just inspiring.

Picking up from our December column, another recruiting/developmental resource is MentorNet. SMTA partnered with MentorNet in 2008 to meet an increasing demand for mentors from student members, and for SMTA members to connect with students studying in related fields. This partnership allows members access to resources offered by MentorNet: one-on-one email mentoring, résumé database for student internships and jobs, and the E-Forum.

The MentorNet E-Mentoring Program is designed to provide information, encouragement, and support to community college, undergraduate and graduate students, fellows and untenured faculty. Protégés are matched in one-on-one e-mail relationships with mentors who have work experience, and MentorNet provides the training, coaching and support for a successful eight-month mentoring relationship. Karen Bergseth ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is the contact for more information.

During the networking event (see last month's column), Bergseth made the very valid point that MentorNet needs students as much as mentors. Don’t be afraid to mention this resource to your college-bound children, extended family, friends with technically-inclined kids, and educators, because far too many students enter college with no idea of what it takes to be successful in engineering or the resources available to help them get a head start on building relationships that can lead to future employment. With all the changes and challenges in education, students can’t afford to make a mistake in some of their course/career choices, and a mentor can help define the path or at least light the way.

While these programs help to ensure a solid educational foundation at the entry level, which is essential to starting on a level playing field, it is also important to keep that field level over time. Questions to ask in evaluating corporate practices in this area include:

  • Are corporate values and desired behaviors clearly stated?
  • Is the employee evaluation process tied to specific goal achievement?
  • Are offsite networking opportunities exclusionary to any otherwise qualified individuals?
  • Is there a coaching, mentoring or buddy system in place for new employees?

Diversity programs don’t have to be overhead-intensive. Instead, they just need to inspire a commitment to non-biased talent development within the management team. The company I felt most equally treated in didn’t have a diversity program. It just had clearly-stated performance goals and everyone was judged on performance to mutually-agreed upon goals. I was the only woman in senior management, but I always felt I was viewed solely as a member of the executive team. That positive impression started in my first two weeks on the job when I was scheduled for lunches every day with individual members of senior management and the board of directors. Over lunch we discussed the organizational challenges they saw as most important, my impressions and workable solutions. That upfront informal interaction laid the strongest foundation I’ve ever had in an organization, and it was part of an internal effort to better integrate new members of the team. When I’ve talked with female engineers, the most frequent comment I hear is that they just want to be considered team members vs. being treated differently in terms of team interaction because they are women. The casual social interaction I’ve just described is not done enough cross-gender, and many women are uncomfortable trying to initiate it.

Top talent comes in many forms. Companies that focus on attracting the right talent and then growing those individuals have a competitive advantage. The group of women I met at the networking reception was comprised of several generations, and it reminded me of just how much both the electronics and EMS industries had improved in talent development. However, thinking about some of the challenges and barriers that we “early adopters” chose to overcome as the industry evolved motivated me to write this article. Younger women, find an older woman in your organization and thank her for helping plow the road. It’s good to see the path less travelled turning into a highway. More important, it is refreshing to see a group of women comfortable enough to gather in a room and share their experiences. That alone highlights just how much better things have become.

Susan Mucha is president of Powell-Mucha Consulting Inc. (powell-muchaconsulting.com), and author of Find It. Book It. Grow It. A Robust Process for Account Acquisition in Electronics Manufacturing Services; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 January 2012 18:53
 

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