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Chrysler Demonstrates Commitment to Fostering Workplace Diversity

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The editors of Winds of Change magazine, a quarterly production by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), recently released their first list of “The Top 50 Best STEM Workplaces” that offer supportive and stimulating environments for diverse cultures—particularly American Indians and Alaska Natives.

“Our methodology was pretty straightforward,” Karen English, Winds of Change editor, told Indian Country today Media Network. “We surveyed companies we know recruit Native Americans. The main goal is to help our readers identify workplaces that appreciate their sophisticated STEM [science , technology, engineering and math] skills and unique sensibilities as Native Americans that they can contribute.”

Winds of Change staff honed in on companies that recruit at multicultural events, foster a wider appreciation of different cultures, offer internships as a pipeline for recruiting diverse candidates, work with minority-owned vendors and suppliers, and engage in philanthropic outreach to multicultural organizations, among other qualities.

The only domestic automaker included on the list was Chrysler Group, which boasts six diversity groups including the Native American Employee Resource Group.

“Speaking on behalf of Native American employees at Chrysler Group, we are very proud that our company has been recognized for its commitment to diversity and accomplishments in creating a work culture that is respectful and inclusive,” said Priscilla Hedin, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, co-chair of the Company’s Native American Employee Resource Group and a Chrysler employee for 20 years.

The group, which presently has 17 members, partakes in volunteer and charitable activities, facilitates outreach to Native students, and educates the Chrysler workforce about Native American identity and tradition.

Hedin considers helping Native youth realize their potential “one of the most rewarding things we do. We give ideas and direction for their career path,” she told ICTMN.

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The group also hosts a booth at the AISES career fair, a popular event at the Society’s annual conference. The 2013 AISES’ National Conference takes place in Denver, Colorado, October 31 through November 2.

Courtesy Chrysler Group

Chrysler brought automobiles to the AISES career fair for students to view.

Independently, Chrysler’s Native American Employee Resource Group sponsors a career day with local Michigan colleges, Hedin said. Students tour Chrysler’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and get the opportunity to converse with top executives. “The executives love it,” Hedin enthused. “They’re supposed to spend about 45 minutes to an hour with them, but often times we have to drag the student out an hour and a half later.”

To promote the value of employees from different backgrounds, all six Chrysler diversity groups have a designated week to educate their co-workers about their cultures. For one week each November, posters adorn the building’s walls to celebrate Native culture, and Native dancers perform for Chrysler staff. The more Chrysler employees embrace different cultures, the better equipped they are to cater to a diverse customer base, Hedin explains. 

Danny Brown, Cherokee, an engineering manager at Chrysler and a board member of the Native American employee group, urges Native students to job hunt for companies that cultivate a diverse environment like Chrysler.

“I tell them there’s a bigger world out there,” he told Winds of Change. “Here at Chrysler, you can find every nation.”

Chrysler Group is routinely raked as a top diversity employer by DiversityInc magazine and by HispanicBusiness magazine, and the company has been recognized six times by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as one of the country's leading companies supporting diversity and inclusion of LGBT employees, among many other accolades.