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Promoting Women and Minorities What Eli Lilly Did Right

November 29, 1999
Related Topics: Discrimination and EEOC Compliance, Diversity, Featured Article
Issue: Eli Lilly and Co. recently was recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor for its success in placing women and minorities into management positions. After reading about this award, your boss has asked you to look into the policies and programs that worked for Eli Lilly. What can you tell him or her?

Answer: Eli Lilly and Co. received the Opportunity 2000 award from the Secretary of Labor on October 7, 1999. The Opportunity 2000 award is the top award presented annually by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). The OFCCP regulates and enforces the equal employment opportunity and affirmative action requirements applicable to companies with federal contracts.

According to the OFCCP, the Opportunity 2000 award honors a federal contractor for the successful implementation of a significant multifaceted program ensuring equal employment opportunity and affirmative action within its organization, and for supporting these goals in the community. Eli Lilly won the OFCCP's highest award, in part, for its efforts to promote women and minorities to management positions.

In 1997, Eli Lilly tripled the number of African Americans promoted or hired as managers. The percentage of minority executives increased from 3 percent in 1993 to 11 percent in 1998. By 1998, women made up 31 percent of all Eli Lilly managers, 20 percent of all new directors and 27 percent of all new vice presidents. Between 1997 and 1998, the company hired 500 Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American and African American employees.

The company has achieved this success through the use of development programs and a succession process.

  • Development programs.
    The flow of women and minorities into management positions has been possible in large part due to a broad range of development programs at Eli Lilly. An assisted education program trains high potential employees who have decided to pursue advanced degrees. A woman's network established in 1994 reaches more than 350 women in management-level positions. In 1998, Eli Lilly reimbursed employees $950,000 for tuition in classes that were both non-job and career-related.
  • Succession management process.
    Eli Lilly's succession management process identifies women and minorities with potential and prepares them for management positions. With each management opening, the next "most ready" women and minorities are identified as qualified candidates. There are more than four times as many women identified in the talent pipeline today as in 1996, when succession management began, and the number of minorities in the pipeline has nearly doubled.

Source: CCH Incorporated is a leading provider of information and software for human resources, legal, accounting, health-care and small-business professionals. CCH offers human resource management, payroll, employment, benefits, and worker-safety products and publications in print, CD, online and via the Internet. For more information and other updates on the latest HR news, check our Web site at

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion.

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