Building a Diversity Culture

5 Minutes with Kim Admire

Building a diverse culture in an industry dominated by men can be especially challenging. Diversity Woman talked with Kim Admire, vice president for culture, diversity, and equal opportunity programs at Lockheed Martin, about how she’s tackling the obstacles.

DW: Among the diversity initiatives at Lockheed Martin, which was the hardest to get off the ground?
Kim Admire: Several initiatives have been quite comprehensive, and thus challenging to launch. One is the Effective Leadership of Inclusive Teams [ELOIT] learning labs. This focuses on senior leaders, including white men. We did a lot of work up front: reviewed employee survey feedback, which helped identify that this type of program was warranted; partnered with an external consultant to develop the labs; and solicited feedback on pilot sessions to shape our approach.

In 2009, the Executive Diversity Council decided to require all vice presidents and above to attend one of the three-day ELOIT labs—either the White Men’s Caucus or the White Men and Allies program. More than 90 percent of our senior leaders have been through the laboratories, and we have launched a streamlined version for our first-line leaders.

DW: At Lockheed, about 21 percent of leaders are women. What can be done to raise that percentage?
KA: Historically, women have been underrepresented in our industry. Only 26 percent of aerospace workers and 9 percent of aerospace engineers are women. 
The key to inspiring more female leaders is to provide women with mentors and role models. One way Lockheed Martin does this is through our Women’s Leadership Forum, which is an annual meeting of approximately 350 women leaders from across our company. We also hold networking events that involve more than 2,500 women.

Recently, Lockheed Martin and Girls Inc. announced a partnership whereby Lockheed Martin volunteers connect via face-to-face or virtual meetings with girls ages 9 to 11 to strengthen their interest and confidence in pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM] education and careers.

DW: How can technology-focused companies promote STEM learning?
KA: Lockheed Martin is committed to developing programs that educate and inspire tomorrow’s scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. In 2012, we contributed more than $10 million to support education initiatives with a strong emphasis on STEM. We are especially proud of Engineers in the Classroom, our K-12 STEM education outreach initiative, including programs like FIRST Robotics and 4-H Robotics clubs. These programs enable Lockheed Martin engineers to work directly with students.

DW: Do you have any advice for women who are working on diversity in other male-dominated fields?
KA: Diversity and inclusion must be recognized as a business imperative. You should know what data are important to your leaders and highlight relevant data as you convey how diversity can have a positive impact on the organization.

Diversity and inclusion should not be viewed as an HR initiative, or it will likely be labeled as a “nice to have” versus a differentiator in the marketplace. To ensure success, it’s important to identify champions for diversity, particularly senior executives and business leaders—men and women—who are willing to sponsor key initiatives. DW

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