Women of color in the top rank positions of big companies never fail to impress. Even if this now happens very often not only in the United States but around the world, it still remains to be an anecdote to tell—an event to be proud of. Xerox and PepsiCo are lucky to have such strong women in the top of their companies to lead, manage, and execute. From their humble beginnings, they stepped up the ladder of success, their companies in tow. Ursula Burns and Indra Nooyi are two of these women in color—two women that no one can push around even in the world of titans and moguls.
Ursula Burns. President, Xerox Corporation In April 2007 Xerox named Ursula Burns its president. At the same time, she is also a member of the Board of Directors. Burns is the first African-American woman to hold the position. She holds an impressive track record in the industry that gives away why she deserves the presidency. This includes multi-million deals and sales for Xerox which can be largely accounted to her efforts. (Wilson, 2007) Xerox Corporation is known for their copy machines. Thus, the generic term xerox for making copies of a document was coined. The word play resulted to even more customer loyalty to Xerox.
With Burns in its armoire, Xerox innovated several forms of their business machines, crossing the boundary of what were before single-function copy machines. However, Xerox also had its downtimes. Through it all, it was Burns who aided the CEO in its functions to save the company. Burns joined Xerox in 1980. She worked and managed several teams in the company including research and development, and marketing. Burns was not only skilled at conceptualizing and creating products together with the help of her commissioned fabricators, she was also good at working for and with teams and managing the people working for and with her.
She was instrumental in the development of new products and preparing them for business, helping Xerox retain its image of leadership in its industry today. Being on the top rank of the business machines industry, Xerox had Burns to thank for in her many years of unprecedented service and loyalty to the company. (Executive biographies, nd; Wilson, 2007) Beginnings Burns was born in New York, New York on September 20, 1958. She later married Lloyd Bean who also served Xerox as a scientist and with whom Burns had two children. Growing up without her father, Burns’ mother was able to provide for her and her two other sisters.
She was even able to attend private schools, thanks to her mother’s successful entrepreneurship. Burns proved herself to be good at Mathematics, a trigger for her to take on an engineering course later on. (Ursula Burns, nd) By title, Burns is a mechanical engineer, a course closely-related to her profession. It was from the Polytechnic Institute of New York that Burns received her Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. As if that is not enough, Burns took her Masters in Mechanical Engineering and earned the title from Columbia University. Executive biographies, nd) This background helped Burns stand out in an otherwise man’s world. She knew technology and the works, and matched with management skills found her way up Xerox’s corporate ladder. Yet it was not engineering that made Burns known inside Xerox. In her position, she needs to be more of a manager rather than an engineer. Her concentration was on products, services, and marketing. While her engineering degree is a big help for her position, she needed much more from her management prowess rather than her technical expertise. Burns have humble beginnings to be proud of.
She started working for Xerox as a summer intern and worked her way to other positions. She became a manager of several departments. Later on, she was vice president. It was through perseverance, hard work, and determination that she was able to manage the different positions she had. For each, she had challenges to surpass and problems to solve. Thus, while the positions were to dream of, the same cannot be said of the work entailed. (Wilson, 2007) Burns led herself up the ranks with precision, that even if it took her years to get into the top position it was done so without question to Burns’ capabilities.
After managing business teams when she entered Xerox, she became a Vice President and General Manager of different departments from 1997 to 2007, when she became president. The rise in the position also led to rise in compensation. Burns reportedly received a total of almost $6 million US dollars in 2007, plus unexercised stock options amounting to over $5 million US dollars under her name. (Forbes, nd) Burns’ years at Xerox enabled her to prove that her being a woman and her being African-American is not a hindrance for her to perform extraordinarily at work.
Saving glory. In 2000, when Xerox was facing financial hardships due to competition and several other factors, Burns was able renew the structure of the ailing company and invite new partners. She welcomed new ideas and worked best on those which are feasible. Together with CEO Ann Mulcahy, new deals have been forged and new contracts were negotiated. This produced new products, and eventually a newfound trust by stakeholders to the corporation. (Ursula Burns, nd) In 2005, $14 billion out of the $15. 7 billion revenues of Xerox were out of Burns’ efforts as the Senior Vice President and President of the Business Group.
This reserved for her the 27th spot in the Fortune 50 Most Powerful Women. Much of the contribution that enabled Burns to rake in this much revenue to the company is an admiring tactic where technology meets marketing. As much as there is impressive marketing, there is also a wave of new products under Burns’ leadership that gave businesses new machine choices and better options especially at copying which Xerox has long been known for. (Fortune, nd) Since then, Xerox ventured into digital imaging for its copiers.
By using new technology to capture better market share, software technologies have become part of Xerox. It was a plan spun by Mulcahy and Burns. As Mulcahy takes care of press and public relations, Burns put the plans into action. Today, Xerox was able to bounce back and create a niche for itself. (Ursula Burns, nd) More than the job This power woman is not all work too, despite her grueling schedule. Burns may be tough in business, but she has her soft spot—the marginalized. For helping the needy, she received an award from the Women’s Council of Rochester Business Alliance.
In her speech, she cited that executives should save something for the people who are in need, referring to the role of companies and its movers in making the world a better place. (Wilson, 2007) This is not surprising, as many other philanthropists subscribe to the same charity idea. However, it is impressive for Burns to consider this despite of expectedly full days at Xerox, having had one of the most coveted positions in the business world. Burns knows that whatever she is now can be greatly credited to her experiences and out-of-the-box thinking. She was a visionary. Much of her work is inspired by mere ideas.
Here, it was evident that Burns was a woman of action. She is never content with having a brilliant mind; she needed a mind at work. (Wilson, 2007) Many predict that becoming a CEO is not very impossible, nor is it far away for Burns. However, impressive Burns would like to focus on the present and leave the future to where it belongs. As the advancement in position remains to be seen, there will be a lot more to expect from Burns. She shall continue to lead Xerox to more revenues and better frontiers. (Wilson, 2007) Burns plan to keep up her good work. She plans to specialize in boosting product development for Xerox.
She also plans to create better marketing platforms for the products and services of the company. This includes creating new product lines and innovative services that will tap and answer the ever-changing needs of businesses not only in the United States but around the world. (Wilson, 2007) Indra Nooyi Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo A global thinker, this is what Indra Nooyi claims herself to be—something that made her successful in her job as the chief strategist for PepsiCo. Nooyi believes that her leadership and her company should do something different for the world.
Opening the company’s eyes to this need also opened a lot of opportunities for PepsiCo and for the thousands of people that it is benefiting around the world. Known for their bottled soda products and later on the potato chips, PepsiCo is now a healthy food company. While this may be surprising, the case is not at all for Indra Nooyi. (Saporito, 2007) Breaking traditions Nooyi grew up in a conservative family, living in a conservative neighborhood. Where she lived, it was not common for girls to go to college. It was more uncommon for girls to get master’s degrees.
Finally, a degree in business takes out the possibility for her to find a man to marry her. In India in her time, women should be concentrating more on house chores. However, armed with dreams and perseverance, she took on the American dream that she long have been fantasizing about. (Murray, 2004) Born of Indian descent in the 1950s, Nooyi always performed with the end in mind. It was purpose that drove her into action. At all times, this mantra gave her the opportunity to be good at what she does. This is exactly the same thing that made her the chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo. (Schultz, 2008)
It was surprising that an American food company would have an Indian and a woman rolled into one as its top officer. Yet with impressive records under her belt, she was a welcome addition. Upon joining the company in 2000, her leadership produced a 72% rise in the revenues. The growth remained since then. (Schultz, 2008; Indra Nooyi: Keeping cool in hot water, 2007) Amusing background Yet Nooyi still finds time to muse about how she was able to get to her current position. Nooyi was a self-proclaimed poor Indian girl. She took her Masters in Management at Yale Business School with barely any money or any material thing to boast of.
She did not even have money to buy clothes, so that she wore sari to business school. It was unconventional, and it was uncomfortable, but Nooyi had other things to busy herself about, and thank for. (Murray, 2004) To begin with, it was pure luck that she was ever able to get into Yale. She saw the advertisement in a magazine while at work in India and with some prodding from friends she applied. She was surprised that she got accepted, and even more surprised that she got financial aid to pursue her studies in the United States, a rather unlikely thing to do for an Indian girl in her time. (Murray, 2004) Lessons
If there is anything that she learned from Yale and from the United States, it is the necessity of appreciating an issue before drawing conclusions. Unlike in India where every issue has a corresponding prescribed conclusion, Nooyi learned that there are other factors that need to be considered before one can fully understand an issue. Only then can a person come up with a conclusive argument. This is where, Nooyi found out, the difference of intelligence and being educated lies. (Murray, 2004) Nooyi also considers the impact of her education on communication at Yale, a requirement on the first year of her master’s degree, beneficial.
Coming from India where before communication was unheard of as a pillar in businesses, it was a great opportunity that she embraced. Later on, she realized that the lesson proved useful for her. In her industry where communication is a vital ingredient for success, Nooyi can never be happier for receiving the vital training. (Murray, 2004) Part of her folio was her stints at Tootal, a textile company in India, and in Stayfree, a brand which she managed for Johnson & Johnson. Considering that it was difficult to market the brand to a conservative country like India, Nooyi took the challenge and strived to be good at it.
In the process, she learned a lot from the business. These are real-world values that she was able to apply in her later positions, including that in PepsiCo. (Murray, 2004) Sustainable leadership With the thrust to keep the consumers healthy, Nooyi led a sustainable development drive with PepsiCo. It was easy to mistake the efforts as a marketing spinoff, given that PepsiCo is large at junk food products. Pepsi and its other softdrinks in bottles and in cans are known all over the world. However, Nooyi proved that she was serious with her craft.
Using sustainability as the key to her leadership, she posed herself to change the way people look at the junk food company. (Saporito, 2007) Her business sense and personal style made up a great combination for PepsiCo. Reportedly, she would sing at work and while walking around the office, reflecting her days as a rock band member in Chennai. She even takes time to check on her favorite New York Yankees, while juggling office duties. She was fun at work, while still maintaining the quality of output for work. She also did not care much about her dress code when comfort at work is in question.
She will be more than willing to take her shoes off at work when the need arises, without any hesitation. (Indra Nooyi: Keeping cool in hot water, 2007) Under her leadership, PepsiCo pushed the purchase of Quaker Oats and Tropicana, which started the roster of healthy food products by the company. She transformed the company’s potato chips into whole-grain snacks, and moved to eliminate trans-fat from their food products. PepsiCo was among the firsts of the food companies who did so, pushing more into its campaign for healthier snack alternatives.
Nooyi opened a 22% further growth for the company under this sustainable leadership thrust. (Schultz, 2008) In 2006, PepsiCo enjoyed $35. 1 billion in revenues and it was a struggle that Nooyi had to face everyday—to keep PepsiCo at that or even better. Her impressive stance at health development is undoubtedly a big help for the company to remain on top. She did so not only in the Americas. China and Middle East became a hotspot for PepsiCo’s products because of Nooyi. In fact, a considerable part of Pepsi’s growth may be accounted to other countries, India which is Nooyi’s hometown included.
Her efforts brought her a top spot at Time 100’s Builders and Titans not only once. (Benner, et al, 2007; Saporito, 2007) As Nooyi contributes her expertise in leading PepsiCo, consumers are rest assured that the effects for them will always be positive. Despite continuous production of carbonated drinks, PepsiCo shall remain true with their promotion of healthy snack alternatives. In the end, it is expected that this sustainability for consumers will result in even more support from buyers. With more buyers, PepsiCo can expect better revenues and more opportunities to come. Best Companies—Diversity for Women of Color
Deloitte Deloitte is not only good at providing diverse services; they are also good at managing their diverse workforce. For Deloitte, diversity should be a priority for businesses. Thus, it welcomes people from all walks of life in its team. Offering services in financial advisory, financial review, and risk management, Deloitte structured an impressive program to promote diversity and inclusion within the company. (About diversity and inclusion, nd) In bringing its best foot forward for diversity management, Deloitte offers several work-life balance programs for its employees.
The company offers flexible working schedules and travel initiatives to fit the lifestyles and culture of their workforce. Deloitte is making diversity and inclusion a pillar of their business, and strives to approach it holistically. Thus, from selection to training, retention and development, the company makes it a point to consider the diverse population of its workforce. (About diversity and inclusion, nd) As a part of its commitment to women of color, Deloitte also hosted the Women of Color in Management Consulting in cooperation with Consulting Magazine. The forum aimed at empowering women at work.
It also aspired to create solutions for their ever-changing professional needs. Deloitte also started the Women’s Initiative (WIN), which made the company a top recruiter for women around the world. The campaign included revolutionary and highly flexible career plans for women, matching their needs and lifestyles. This allowed them to continue with their careers without giving up on the other demands of their life. (Women of color in management consulting, 2008; Women’s initiative, nd) To further assimilate work-life balance among women employees, Deloitte is also monitoring its diversity activities.
It is currently looking at the promotions of minorities and women. It is also investigating on the turnover rates and causes of its employees. Finally, it is also probing on the developmental services that it can offer to its employees. All of these are aimed at making diversity work for the company. (About diversity and inclusion, nd) As chairman and chief executive officer Chet Wood puts it, diversity is essential for Deloitte because it is the only way that they can match the equally diverse clients of their company. This is true for all businesses, regardless of industry.
Global businesses have to interact with various nationalities. This introduces cultural differences, which may give rise to cultural problems in serving clients. With a diverse workforce, a client can cultivate relationships with employees whose background is similar to him. (Annual report, 2006) With this subscription to the importance of women in the corporate world and avoidance of exclusion for women of color, Deloitte will surely remain on top of its rank. By creating a diverse work group to respond to its diverse clientele, the company was able to accommodate stakeholders from around the world.
This proves that putting importance into diversity is a key factor for today’s businesses. At some point, it is a determinant for today’s business success. IBM The world of computing will never be complete without these three letters: IBM. IBM, it seems, has become synonymous to computer technology and other computing equipment. For the company, the success will never be complete without the employees—who comes from everywhere around the world, regardless of race, ethnicity, and other diversities. IBM takes diversity and inclusion seriously. For this purpose, it notes its diversity thrust in most of its forms.
It also keeps diversity councils to serve the needs of their various employee backgrounds. The councils act as inclusive groups for women, minorities, and the other populations that make up IBM. (Executive task forces, councils and network groups, nd) Monitoring diversity activities also keeps IBM busy. It ensures that the company and all of its employees are well trained on diversity and inclusion. To do so, it has executive task forces to promote diversity and preserve it to the optimum level. This includes inclusion and support for women of color. (Executive task forces, councils and network groups, nd)
Like Deloitte, diversity management is part of IBM’s business strategy. Being a global brand, it follows that IBM has clients coming from all over the world. Thus, it is beneficial to have people in its workforce which will also be coming from all over the world to offer support to its various clients. This parallelism will offer the best benefits for the employees and clients alike. (Diversity as strategy, nd) Women also comprise more than 50% of small and medium enterprises. IBM believes that connecting women with women is a good business strategy.
As women will be able to understand other women better, value is given by IBM to employing women in its roster. With this in mind, employing women becomes a business requirement not only for IBM but across all industries. (Diversity as strategy, nd) IBM starts their diversity initiatives from the time they hire their women employees. Screening applicants based on merit and without regard to cultural or racial differences, employees come from all sorts of backgrounds. Applicants then undergo training, and even at that point diversity and inclusion is discussed.
This aims to educate each and every employee with the diversity management policies of the company, and its programs which are designed for all groups, including women of color. IBM is one among the largest employers for women. In 2004, 28% of IBM employees worldwide are women. Twenty three percent of the managers worldwide are also women. The statistics continue to grow with developments in the diversity initiatives of the company. (Diversity as strategy, nd) IBM also promotes the employability of women, and develops them with specialized trainings. To respond to needs of women, IBM offers corporate child care services for mothers.
Elder care services for employees who need such services are also initiated. These aim to enrich the work-life balance being promoted by the company. (Diversity as strategy, nd) The company continues to impress its clients with new software, hardware, and even new services, branching out into outsourcing and other similar innovations. With its adoption of even more impressive diversity management tools, IBM is sure to impress its stakeholders worldwide. KPMG KPMG, another professional service provider, extends its services by welcoming employees from various backgrounds.
It assumes that by welcoming diversity in its workforce, it will be able to create a distinctly interesting workplace. It hopes to foster a workplace of differing cultures, differing backgrounds, and new opportunities for all. In all of its vision, inclusion became an important focal point, a business goal that it strives to continually keep to please its employees and clients alike. Almost half of KPMG’s new employees are women. This truth required the company to be women-friendly, so to speak. Women are considered to be special employees simply because they have special needs.
They have duties at home that they need to accomplish along with duties at work that they have to finish. Women whoa re married also have husbands to tend too, and children to take care of. With this in mind, KPMG fostered programs to ensure the sustainability of women—enabling them to work while functioning normally in their other roles. (KPMG’s network of women, nd) KPMG states that there are ways to make diversity management easy for companies. First, companies must acknowledge differences and make them an important part of their organization. It is only by putting value into diversity that it becomes useful and easy to manage.
It is also important to appreciate these differences while at work, to manage the risks entailed properly. (Commitment to diversity, nd) Inclusion can also be fostered easily in many ways. Leveraging or the process of creating enough resources for diversity management is a good way to begin managing diversity. With enough space and materials to allow for diversity, inclusion naturally follows. It is through leveraging that the company can fully enhance an inclusive work environment. Moreover, it makes the company open to applications from people of diverse backgrounds. Commitment to diversity, nd) KPMG does not only leverage on its employees, it also makes them feel important. It stresses that this is an essential step to promote retention and encourage cooperation from employees. KPMG assumes that by promoting diversity, it will be able to help its diverse stakeholders at a higher level, meeting their needs and creating benefits for them. It is also only through this that employees will appreciate the role that they are playing in the company, resulting in better cooperation from employees and more positive work attitudes. (Commitment to diversity, nd)
Serious to its efforts especially for its women employees, KPMG founded KPMG’s Network of Women or KNOW. The group aims to create a network of women who educate and enrich each other, giving each the opportunity to excel in their other fields while keeping their jobs. The company has been successful in its efforts to develop good relationships and mentoring between their women employees through the program. Through its efforts, it became one among the Top Ten Best Companies for Mothers of 2008. (KPMG’s network of women, nd) Home Depot For Home Depot, diversity is a catalyst.
It allows the company to innovate, enables the employees to contribute, and initiates learning for all. As a result, products and services are continually being improved. With a combination of different cultures and different backgrounds, from its employees to its suppliers, Home Depot is able to deliver an optimally diverse services to its worldwide clients—who themselves come from different backgrounds. (One team, many talents, nd) Hiring at Home Depot already covers diversity management. For this home improvement company, talent matters more than anything else.
Applicants are assessed based on their merits, just like IBM. Recruitments are done without regard on their race, age, marital status, or gender. Home Depot strives to recruit the best from all backgrounds. (One team, many talents, nd) To further promote diversity, Home Depot trusts that uniqueness should be appreciated. The company accepts that its women have different needs from the men in its workforce. Special treatment and response to these needs of the women in Home Depot are considered from the time that employees are hired to the time that they are undergoing developmental trainings.
Moreover, women are given the opportunity to balance work with the other aspects in their lives. The company also believes that learning is an essential aspect of diversity. It allows its women employees to grow, and further improve on their crafts. Because women have differing interests, Home Depot opens itself to these various interests and fosters support for each. Thus, women at Home Depot continue to improve on their lives as well as on their jobs. (One team, many talents, nd) The company pushes through these efforts to manage diversity because it believes that putting value to employees will result in employees who value customers.
Being a consumer business, the company needs to ensure that employees are treated well so that they treat clients well in return. Having women in its workforce also helps Home Depot adapt to the ever-changing needs of women, who make up a larger percentage of shoppers. (One team, many talents, nd) Finally, affinity groups are encouraged by the company to provide networking for its employees. Employees are allowed to form and register or join groups that fit their background. This is an added support for employees of different background, as it allows them to mingle with people who are similar with them.
Yet, because they still work together with people of other backgrounds, unity is still promoted without stepping on individuality. (One team, many talents, nd) Diversity is a sensitive issue for companies. However, when one successfully manages it to the extent that it becomes functional for employees, suppliers, and clients, such as the way that Home Depot did, it benefits the company and its key players. This gives a premium not only to the company but to the products and services as well. In the end, clients will be pleased and revenues will not be so impossible to achieve.