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2003 Speeches
Laurette Koellner

Laurette Koellner

Executive Vice President

Chief People and Administration Officer

Office of the Chairman

The Boeing Company

"EEO AA Compliance Summit 2003"

Chandler, Arizona

January 28, 2003

Good morning. It's a pleasure to be here with you today.

I'd like to thank Joyce for her kind words of introduction and the entire Mesa team for being such wonderful hosts for our summit.

Throughout my career at Boeing, I have held several positions that have given me a unique perspective on just how much this company values Equal Employment Opportunities and Affirmative Action policies.

And much of the success in creating these policies is due to the hard work of each of you. I would especially like to again acknowledge Joyce Tucker and the entire Global Diversity, Compliance and Policy Administration team for their dedication and commitment to the principles that will help shape Boeing's workforce - now and for years to come.

By facilitating Integrated Laurette Koellner Development meetings this fall, Joyce and her team brought together representatives from throughout the company to create the mission, goals and initiatives for Boeing's Global Diversity Strategy. On behalf of the Office of the Chairman, I want to reiterate our faithfulness to these ideas and the value that they bring to the entire company.

That's clearly evident by the participation of the Office of the Chairman members at this summit. From the taped message from Phil Condit seen earlier, the message you will hear from Dave Swain on Thursday, Mike Sears on Friday and my remarks today, I hope you understand our level of dedication to improving diversity throughout Boeing. My current position, as member of the office of the chairman and chief people and administration officer has broadened my experience and taught me a lot about our strategy to integrate diversity principles across the global enterprise.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to represent Boeing at the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum in Mauritius, which is an Island off of the coast of eastern Africa. While I was there, I spoke about ways to increase opportunities for trade between the United States and the countries of Africa. It was a tremendous gathering of a very diverse group of people representing business, government and non-governmental organizations with the express purpose of sharing ideas and of creating opportunities to increase business and cultural interactions.

While in Africa, I also had the opportunity to visit one of our offices. We have two offices in Africa, both led by Boeing Africa President Walt Braithwaite. One office is in Accra, Ghana. The other office, which is the one I visited, is in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The beauty of the diversity of our great Boeing workforce became even clearer to me when one of our Boeing Africa teammates presented a gift to me on behalf of the team. Her words during the presentation were first delivered in the Zulu language, and then in English. This particular woman speaks six of the eleven official languages of South Africa. And each of the other Boeing people in Africa speak at least three languages. Because of the team's different backgrounds, language skills and cultural experiences, we have a tremendous advantage, as a truly global organization, to succeed in Africa and throughout the world. I've had similar experiences as I travel to Boeing locations across the globe. We are truly fortunate to have such a diverse workforce. But you know and I know, we've a long way to go.

Highlighting language skills is just one simple way to point a spotlight on our diversity efforts, but it brings up another point. What good are these skills and talents, if they are not utilized and valued?

I want to take this opportunity today to talk about our company's mission, our goals for diversity and integration, and the commitment from Boeing's leadership team to fully integrate diversity across our company. Throughout these remarks, I will be sharing with you Boeing's pledge to embrace diversity and engage our workforce so that we will further our goals towards increasing shareholder value and improving upon Boeing's present success.

Earlier, in Phil Condit's message to you, he said, "A diverse and involved environment, which our EEO, Affirmative Action and Diversity commitments help us achieve, creates a culture that enables employees to reach their full potential." As the Chief People and Administration Officer, I take those words to heart. They should be a rallying cry for all of us.

People are our greatest strength and our competitive advantage.

I know that you are all familiar with our Vision 2016: "People working together as a global enterprise for aerospace leadership." I hope that you took special notice that our vision begins with the word "people." And it's no mistake that it begins with people. This is a constant reminder that in order to achieve our goals we need to develop, support and nurture our foundation - our workforce.

This vision has been further defined through strategies that build upon Core Competencies and the Values that our company holds.

Our three strategies are to run healthy core businesses, leverage strengths into new products and services, and open new frontiers. To me, this speaks to our present ? to cultivate existing assets, mainly our people and to continue our record of discovery and excellence across the business units. Most importantly, it speaks to our future. Boeing is continually searching for new ways to increase business and expand our offerings in the global marketplace.

Our Core Competencies explain how we expect our people to perform. We will seek to have a detailed customer knowledge and focus to be able to drive the markets we are in. We will continue to excel in large-scale systems integration. And we will operate a lean organization, characterized by efficient use of assets, high inventory returns, excellent supplier management, short cycle times, high quality and low transaction costs.

We will develop these strategies and continue to implement our Core Competencies on a solid foundation of clearly articulated values. I will briefly list off these values and then speak to them in more detail: Leadership, Integrity, Quality, Customer Satisfaction, People Working Together, A Diverse and an Involved Team, Good Corporate Citizenship, and Enhancing Shareholder Value.

I hope there were several words listed there that peaked your interest.

This is the message of Vision 2016 - the message of how the company will implement its mission as we move towards our first centennial anniversary.

As people professionals, the challenge before us is: how to ensure that we are true to this mission, these goals and values while working towards our strategic function to ensure compliance for EEO, Affirmative Action, and diversity across the global company and how to uniformly integrate these principles and strategies.

That's a weighty responsibility, but one that we are up to. I think I speak for all in this room when I say we are determined to see this through, and we've got an excellent strategy to guide our way.

It's a strategy built on clearly defined principles and a mission statement that serves as a sturdy, commonsense foundation for developing our five Integrated Global Diversity Goals.

I'd like to briefly review these ideas with you, although I know Joyce will go over them in greater detail in her presentation. At the conclusion of my remarks, I hope we will have a good discussion about what these ideas mean to you and the challenges you foresee in leading the implementation across the company.

About three years ago, representatives from across the Company developed a guiding principle on which to base our efforts. It states, "Boeing, as a global company, values an inclusive work environment in which everyone demonstrates respect for differences and feels valued by the enterprise. We leverage and maximize our capabilities with a diverse and an involved team."

This principle essentially makes the case for our commitment. Not only do we want to cultivate and develop employees from all backgrounds, what we really need is for every employee, every person, to be involved in making significant contributions to the success of the company. We want to encourage every person to realize his or her potential and help us take this company to even greater levels of achievement.

This idea is further articulated in our Integrated Global Diversity Mission. It states, "Value and leverage multiple perspectives, experiences and capabilities by driving the integration of diversity, equity, and fairness principles into all practices and processes to achieve enterprise objectives."

Each time I see this mission statement, I appreciate its beginning more and more. Value. As a word standing alone it has an important meaning for all of us. It calls us to first appreciate and hold worth to the people who make up this great company.

It then challenges us in a bold way. If we are to achieve our objectives - to achieve success as a company - the only way we will thrive is to integrate diversity, equity, and fairness principles into every aspect of the global organization.

To facilitate the implementation of our mission, we have established five Integrated Global Diversity Goals which I will briefly list for you.

These goals serve as a blueprint for our diversity strategy and for our company's future success. And that's an important point to repeat. This is the perfect example of the "people" case meeting the "business" case. With a diverse pool of talent, we will be able to create a community of people who are bringing their unique experiences and expertise to help improve our products, our services, and our cumulative excellence.

This is an effort that has already developed strong momentum, but we still need to concentrate our efforts on integration and uniformity across business units.

The workplace culture that we are working to achieve is comprised of people who feel good about their jobs, their teams and their work. It's about empowering people and making them realize that their hard work, the time they spend away from their family, really does matter. This is the people case - to create the sort of environment that makes everyone want to come to work each day.

And a new challenge is to make this environment one where all of our team members are involved and making valuable contributions to the company.

In the people side of the business, we need to recognize our piece of business innovations. We need to realize that the next big business achievement will come from an employee who we support. That is our piece of design and innovation. That is how we become business partners.

Our industries are competitive and ever-changing. We utilize communication and technology in ways we could have never imagined. But the point we have to remember is that someone did imagine it. Someone had the courage and the dedication to see an idea through to a finished product. Whether we are talking about a more efficient supply process or a new complicated satellite communication system, we are talking about innovation. We are talking about something that didn't exist before and we are talking about the creativity of people in the workforce.

What we are searching for is a wave of new ideas, thoughts and conversations. We are looking to inspire a diversity of contributions that are born of collaboration and teamwork. This will come from an engaged, invested and DIVERSE workforce. With a significant level of involvement, we will be able to draw on the resources of our people -- the many life-experiences that have helped shape each of us as human beings and in our careers. We are developing our diversity fully knowing that without it, our essential resources would not be as rich.

We are working towards this goal, and we have set benchmarks to measure our progress.

We will continue to focus on what we know works. Maximizing employee involvement is one of the strategies that we are depending on to advance Boeing towards our goals.

I keep saying the word "we," and that's because implementing a strategy like ours will take the effort of all the people in this room and those that we support ?including each new employee that joins the Boeing team.

And, as I said before, diversity, equal opportunity and affirmative action policies have the support of our leaders.

Joyce first presented the integrated global diversity strategy to me and the other members of the PPC in December and then I had the opportunity to mention it at the Boeing Leadership Meeting held earlier this month. And I only 'mentioned' it in Palm Springs because I didn't want to steal Joyce's thunder - she was scheduled to brief it two weeks later at the Executive Council.

And she did. And she also presented it to BEP2 last week I think it's safe to say that Joyce felt the energy in the room, the energy of our leaders rallying to support these important ideas and goals.

I started this presentation with an affirmation of the support we have at the highest levels of this company. Let me just take a few minutes to give you a recent, very visible example of this support.

Boeing, together with about 30 other large companies, filed a brief with the Court of Appeals in support of the University of Michigan. The focus of this brief is on the business imperative of diversity. I think you will be very proud of your company when you hear some of the words in this brief - I'll share a few of them right now: (Note: the words I will read are directly from the brief, with the exception of a legal term 'amici' which is used throughout. I have changed the word 'amice' [which means 'friend of the court' and is commonly used by organizations with an interest common to one of the parties] to 'companies.')

Racial and ethnic diversity in institutions of higher education are vital to our companies' efforts to hire and maintain a diverse workforce, and to employ individuals of all backgrounds who have been educated in a diverse environment. Such a talented workforce is important to our companies' continued success in the global marketplace.

If the University of Michigan is not able to consider all qualities of each applicant to the University, including his or her racial or ethnic background, the University will be hampered in its search for students with the most promise, and its graduates will be less likely to receive an education that gives them "'wide exposure' to the ideas and mores of students as diverse as this Nation of many peoples." Graduates with such an education are important to the community as a whole, as well as to the companies' businesses. Accordingly, we seek to add our collective voice in support of the University of Michigan.

Again, these are words taken from a brief filed with the Court of Appeals. We will file a similar brief with the Supreme Court on February 18. I hope this helps to demonstrate the commitment of this company to equal opportunity for all.

This conference is a great example of the kind of information sharing that needs to take place. In this room, we have assembled key leaders that have been charged with a significant responsibility. Not only will you be leading the charge to ensure Equal Opportunities, you are creating new working relationships, making new connections and learning new strategies to share with the people on your teams at home.

We are a company of teams and we are a company of leaders. Leadership is a key component to involvement. And this is an important point to remember, whether or not we are formal "managers," we are all leaders and we are all responsible for creating the environment in which we work. It's up to each and every one of our people to invest themselves in creating a better environment.

We are depending upon each of you to share, discuss and evaluate these new ideas, our mission, our values and our goals. We need to pull them off the paper and put them into practice. And with your help, with your leadership, we will get there.

That's what we are looking to Joyce and to all of you to accomplish. I want to hear your thoughts and ideas about how we can implement these plans and achieve our goals.

Thank you for inviting me to be here today, now I would like to open the floor to discussion.