Fortune 500 Companies Lead with Diversity, Happiness

News Updates

Fortune 500 companies, such as Boeing Co., Coca-Cola Co., IBM, Lockheed Martin Corp., Procter & Gamble Co. and Verizon, Inc., continue to pave the way for engaging women and minority employees.

Chicago-based aerospace company Boeing was recognized by a series of diversity awards in 2011, including the Diversity Council Honors Award, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Best Places to Work distinction and by readers of Minority Engineer magazine.

“Boeing’s commitment to diversity means providing a work environment that’s welcoming, respectful and engaging, where every individual sees the opportunity to contribute to his or her fullest potential,” said Joyce Tucker, Boeing’s vice president of Global Diversity and Employee Rights.

Other aerospace and defense companies that place high on minorities’ lists as best places to work and have received several diversity awards in 2011 include:

  • Lockheed Martin.
  • Honeywell International Inc.
  • Northrop Grumman Corp.

“At Lockheed Martin, we recognize that diversity is not just a short-term trend. It is a business imperative,” Bob Stevens, chairman and CEO, said on Lockheed Martin’s website. “We take our commitment to diversity and inclusion seriously. We don’t just state our commitment, we live it. We are dedicated to a process that listens to the voices of our employees and partners to help shape our course.”

Influential Women

Meanwhile, women in senior positions at soft drink conglomerate Coca-Cola, products giant Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods, Inc. are transforming boardrooms.

“We are at a critical point in corporate history regarding diversity in the boardroom,” Susan Stautberg, co-founder and co-chair of WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) and president of PartnerCom Corp., said in a statement. “Directors must not only develop a company’s global strategy but also be vigilant watchdogs who understand the hidden challenges of working around the world.”

The aforementioned companies have been named as winners of WCD Awards, presented at a New York event in May 2011:

  • WCD Visionary Award for Leadership and Governance—Procter & Gamble: acknowledges female leaders who serve as a role model in corporate leadership and best governance practices.
  • WCD Visionary Award for Strategic Leadership—Irene Rosenfeld, chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods: recognizes outstanding leadership by a female board chair or CEO, exhibiting courage in making leadership decisions.
  • WCD Visionary Award for Innovation in Shared Value—Coca-Cola: awards companies with successful corporate citizen programs.

“Companies with more women directors are outperforming their peers, connecting their strategies to their communities and innovating with the ideas and leadership of women in the boardroom,” Henrietta Holsman Fore, co-chair of WCD and director of biopharmaceutical company Theravance, Inc., said in a statement.

Pursuit of Happiness

Since many Fortune 500 companies stress the importance of diversity and inclusion, it is no surprise many employees are content working for such firms.

As recruitment and retention of talented workers becomes more important, an organization that puts people first—regardless of their background or physical disability—has an advantage over the other players.

CareerBliss, an online career resource, looked at what drives employee satisfaction and determined how the factors below impact employee happiness:

  • Senior management opportunities.
  • Awards and compensation programs.
  • Workplace flexibility.
  • Communication structure.

CareerBliss’ 50 Happiest Companies in America include Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Verizon.

“It is imperative to look at the structure and culture of large corporate America,” Heidi Golledge, co-founder and CEO of CareerBliss, said in a statement. “Many of these companies employ thousands of American workers, and it’s useful information for both managers and employees to see what types of programs work and create productive, happy workers.”

Moreover, companies that have employees with a mix of languages, backgrounds, cultures, religions and genders might be in a better position to understand the demographics of the customers they wish to serve.

Catherine Skrzypinski is an online writer/editor for SHRM.