Alcoa Breaking Down the Diversity Challenge

Alcoa: Breaking Down the Diversity Challenge

"Prior to embarking on this initiative, as a company we thought we were doing pretty well," Chief Diversity Officer Gena Lovett says on diversity.

Alcoa in 2008 launched an initiative, “Building Opportunities for Women in a ‘Hard Hat’ Company,” to be proactive in changing the culture of the manufacturing company and equalizing the gender representation within its walls.

By 2012, the number of women at the executive level was 19%, up from 15.8% four years earlier, and the number of professional women within the company reached 25.3% compared to 22.6% in 2008. And that was all during a period that the New York-based producer of primary and fabricated aluminum total employment numbers were contracting.

Here’s how it works:

Five Priorities of the Plan

  1. Set corporate and business unit goals to exceed metals industry benchmarks.
  2. Incorporate diversity into the executive compensation system.
  3. Integrate diversity into operational processes and corporate values.
  4. Assign women to operational leadership positions where they can become role models for women and men.
  5. Support women with career development, training, mentoring and sponsoring.

Components of the Plan

1.       Talent Management and Professional Development Process

Hiring and Recruitment: Alcoa established in the United States a “Recruiting Center for Excellence,” a centralized internal recruiting organization, and in 2008 launched the Global Recruitment Council, a group of regional recruiters who share and promote best practices.

Professional Development and Training: The company created AlcoaLearn, a learning management system with online courses on leadership and communication.

Leadership Development Programs: Alcoa offers programs at four different levels of leadership learning and purposefully selects women or racially/ethnically diverse employees as participants.

Talent Reviews and Succession Planning: Through Alcoa’s Performance Management system and talent reviews, it regularly identifies high-potential employees, flagging women and diverse candidates.Mentoring: The company in 2009 initiated a leadership-level mentoring program.

2.       Affinity Groups

  • The Alcoa Women’s Network
  • The Alcoa African Heritage Network
  • Employees at Alcoa for Gay and Lesbian Equality

3.       Engagement

  • The company in 2008 started tracking employee engagement scores, and, since the start, has seen scores climb from 52% in 2008 to 70% in 2012. And in 2012, scores among women -74% - were higher than those of men - 69%.
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