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Diversity In Action

Weyerhaeuser: a solid hiring outlook at this forestry giant

Unique job skills include pulp paper expertise, plus industrial and forest engineering. The company offers flexible work options and a leadership that listens


Like many other companies in a struggling economy, Weyerhaeuser has cut back on operations and hiring. But things are turning around. Although hiring may not be as robust as in past years, the company still projects "a substantial increase in hiring activity in all categories" for the coming year, says Effenus Henderson, chief diversity officer.

"We're a smaller organization now, so we won't be hiring the same numbers as four or five years ago. But we have an increased focus on jobs in professional categories, particularly around IT functions that support major software and hardware systems like SAP and PeopleSoft. The outlook is good."

Henderson adds that in 2012, the company saw "a significant increase" in hires, more than 1,000 people total, with one-fourth of those defined as "salaried professionals."

Weyerhaeuser is one of the world's largest forest products companies. Maintenance engineers are sought, as are forestry and forest engineers and civil engineers, Henderson says.

Weyerhaeuser offers structured entry and internship programs to bring undergrad students into the operating environment. They learn about the company's background and are evaluated for career opportunities. "We balance that with strategic, experienced hiring, particularly on the paper and pulp paper manufacturing side," Henderson says. That's where process engineers come in, needed in paper making or cellulose fiber manufacturing. Quality control includes sophisticated instrumentation, requiring chemical engineering pros. Weyerhaeuser also employs R&D scientists.

Weyerhaeuser has a real estate company that produces and sells homes and subdivisions across the country. For that, the company needs people in production management and industrial engineering.

Weyerhaeuser grows, harvests and regenerates timber and trees. "In locations with large land holdings, through high-yield forestry, we replant and grow trees to maturity using scientific and technical methodologies. Folks in that business come with backgrounds in genetics, biostatistics and information systems management," Henderson says.

"We also have a mineral resources group where we recruit people in geology, civil engineering and forest engineering," Henderson says.

Because of the economy, the company is not recruiting heavily on campuses. However, it maintains relationships with organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers.

There are employee resource groups (ERGs) for blacks, Hispanics, women, veterans, disabled employees, LGBT, and the younger generation. Each ERG has a sponsor who reports to the CEO.

A council of ERGs also meets monthly to share best practices. "We do not follow the traditional diversity council concept. We are working against five 'colors.' They include leadership, governance, talent, climate and strategic outreach. We have goals and metrics by which we examine our progress and trends," Henderson reports.

Brown-bag lunch discussions range from how to mentor, how to get a mentor, and how to structure the relationship, to coaching for success and how to make robust individual development plans.

An important value at Weyerhaeuser is community support. Henderson is a member of the Black Employees Alliance, and members of that group participate in a UNCF walk-a-thon. "As part of the corporate contribution, if you put hours in as a group, the company will fund the activities up to a certain amount," Henderson explains. "As an example, with the walk-a-thon, we did thirty hours of service to support the UNCF, so the company provided funds, based on the number of volunteer hours, that the group can donate to UNCF."

Weyerhaeuser also sponsors a career and college exploration program, in conjunction with the Jack and Jill African American family support organization (www.jackandjillinc.com). "Students and their parents come on site for workshops. We cover things like how to plan for college and share information about what we do here," Henderson says.

Divisions work with local schools and businesses on STEM awareness. The company works to influence curriculum design in middle and high schools so that it fosters the high level of math and science skills needed for Weyerhaeuser's operations, Henderson says. The guiding organization, "Project Lead the Way," is part of a national initiative.

Work-life balance is managed by leaders and their respective departments. Flextime is dependent on the nature of the work. "But in professional jobs, we have an array of options with respect to work-life integration," Henderson says. "Some people work longer days and take a day off. We have options for telecommuting and teleworking. We allow folks to have laptops, so you'll see a lot of folks working from home. We don't have a strict eight to five schedule. It's based on need. We're headquartered in Washington State, but a number of facilities are on the East Coast, so in larger service-oriented departments, we have people in at staggered times."

He adds that employees "are much more productive when they are allowed to be accountable, not only for their work schedule but their outputs and areas of responsibility."

D/C




www.weyerhaeuser.com

Headquarters: Federal Way, WA
Employees: 14,000
Revenues: $6.2 billion in 2011
Business: Forest products

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