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Five Questions for Hayward Bell

Bell, Raytheon's chief diversity officer, has seen how companies’ challenges have evolved from identifying the basic differences associated with race and gender to having a greater understanding of cultural differences that occur in the workplace.

January 20, 2006
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Hayward Bell
Chief diversity officer, Raytheon

Hayward Bell joined Raytheon in Jan­uary 2005 as its first chief diversity officer. Having worked as a diversity officer for the past eight years, Bell has seen how com­panies’ challenges have evolved from iden­tifying the basic differences associated with race and gender to having a greater under­standing of cultural differences that occur in the workplace. Bell recently spoke with Workforce Management staff writer Jessica Marquez.

Workforce Management: Why did Raytheon decide to create a chief diversity officer position?

Hayward Bell: The position had been a rotational position within the human resources department, but the company decided that they needed a professional practitioner in the role to take it in a new direction. I think the company realized that diversity is not one thing you do, but rather it’s a journey. As you learn, you become more thoughtful about what the policies should be.

WM: Why is diversity important to the company? How does it connect to the business strategy?

Bell: Raytheon has established itself as a progressive company, and our approach to diversity establishes that we are not like many of our competitors. We recently added transgender and transsexual employees to our equal opportunity policy, and our CEO did not even flinch at this. That is one of things that we are doing to create a culture of inclusion.

WM: What are Raytheon’s diversity challenges?

Bell: With 80,000 employees, I think the ongoing challenge is informing and educating people. This challenge is going to vary by where you are in the journey. For more progressive companies, I think the challenge is working to address all kinds of differences beyond the basic race and gender issues.

WM: What are you working on to address these challenges?

Bell: We have employee resource groups and we do things in the community such as help kids from different backgrounds with their math and science skills. We also have internal diversity councils that are looking at various ways that we can highlight diversity.

WM: As you mentioned, you recently added transgender and transsexual em­ployees to your equal opportunity policy. What were the company’s concerns about making such a move?

Bell: The concerns were the typical ones. Some of the questions that people had were around "Don’t we have that covered already?" Other concerns were because people didn’t understand what the policy would mean. Sometimes there are concerns about adding this kind of policy because people think it now means that they have to provide more coverage for these employees. Largely most of the concerns are around lack of understanding.

Workforce Management, January 16, 2006, p. 9 -- Subscribe Now!

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