Digital’s core commitment to growing beyond being a white, male dominated technology company moved into higher gear with the hiring of John Sims as Manager of Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity in 1974. He rose to become Vice President of Corporate Personnel in 1984. Early on, the “Efficacy” program was available to help hundreds of employees to deal with uncertainty, take responsibility for their careers, and manager their own career development. In addition, in a 1986 interview for US Black Engineer, Sims explained, “Very early on we recognized that there were not enough minorities and women flowing into technical careers.” The company started programs in scores of high schools and junior colleges with equipment gifts and funding. The company also deliberately located manufacturing plants in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, and trained staff there to qualify for promotion to management.
This quote from Deborah Pace, who had been an employee at the Springfield facility, from a collection of quotations and tributes compiled by Gordon College in 2006: “I want to thank Mr. Olsen and his family for providing people in the black community with excellent job opportunities, corporate training & other great skills that were ahead of so many other Fortune 500 companies. Because of Mr. Olsen, his brother, and their passion to bring Digital Equipment Corporation into the world; a vision that help others to dream and realize their potential, I was able to work, purchase my first home, take care of my two daughters, finish my college education and gain skills that I will utilize the remainder of my life. DEC will always be a part of my life and memory. I would love to work for him again. I salute the leader, hero and great visionary man today and always.”
|Women at work at Digital Equipment Corporation,|
Maynard, MA. Second floor, Building 12.
|Women at work at American Woolen Company, 1904.|
Possibly same room (ceiling higher?). Click on photos to
enlarge. Courtesy Maynard Historical Society.
Digital was ahead of its time with this work. The company had a zero tolerance, non-discrimination policy toward gays, and provided for internal gay support groups. This was in addition to the diversity/differences Core Groups. Support groups were also encouraged for women. Managers who violated anti-discrimination policies were terminated. Were benefits quantifiable? DEC gained a reputation as a good workplace for minorities and women. The company attracted top talent, and staff turnover was below national norms. All employees felt empowered to identify problems and propose solutions. This fit well with a DEC mantra: “He who proposes, does,” meaning that a person identifying a problem was often charged with putting together a team to fix it. Clearly, it came to encompass “She who proposes, does.”
Disappointing that there’s no mention of the very early work that Bill Hanson did in Manufacturing with Jackie Awerman ?ReplyDelete
I conducted a lot of research for this column, but not having myself been a DEC employee, or knowing who to research, I was limited to what I found via searches.ReplyDelete