applied materials

Showing Up as Full Diversity Partners.

The Challenge

The Research, Development and Manufacturing enterprise in Austin, Texas is a hub of excellence for Applied Materials, a global high-tech company. In the early 2000s, the Austin site hit a low level of employee morale and engagement. While able to maintain a high level of production, the culture wasn’t responsive and supportive of a more diverse workforce.


Applied Materials took a bold step to counteract the trend. As a crucial first step, a team of 17 senior leaders participated in a series of WMFDP Learning Labs to build the critical awareness and leadership skills they needed to make the workplace better for everyone.
They learned how to:

  • Engage in discussions around authentic relationships and real-talk.

  • Be visible role models of inclusive skills and behaviors.

  • Show up transparently in their partnerships, listening openly to the struggles of women and minorities.


An effort started with a small group of 17 isolated leaders turned into a corporate initiative and continues to grow. As a result, employees at all levels experiencing a more welcoming and open environment where everyone is seen and valued.
Specifically, Applied Materials:

  • Launched an Employee Engagement Council as a way to actively engage employees in real and meaningful conversation. The Council provides feedback and recommendations directly to the executive management team.

  • Led the organization by launching ERGS worldwide.

  • Hosts monthly gatherings where employees discuss issues of diversity and inclusion, then take action.

  • Continues to value ongoing learning around inclusive behaviors and noticing and interrupting systemic bias.

  • Was selected by Barack Obama as the kick-off site for his rebuilding the middle-class campaign in 2013.


In the rapid growth global economy, Lockheed Martin understood they needed to do more to create an environment where talented women want to stay.

The Challenge

Lockheed Martin recognized that only 9% of aerospace engineers were women. At the same time, white men were feeling excluded from diversity efforts and non-majority employees wanted to see men more engaged.


Lockheed Martin decided that to change the culture, they needed to engage white men.

  • Piloted a series of 3½-day learning labs for leaders and high-potential contributors.

  • Conducted focus group sessions with participants and employees, asking, “is this the right direction?”  The answer was a firm “yes”.  In fact, a group of white men sold the executive diversity council on the need for more labs, calling it an imperative—not a nice-to-have­, a must have.

  • Launched “Effective Leadership of Inclusive Teams” that further engaged leaders through learning labs and 2-day Summits.


Lockheed Martin continues to invest in creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace that powers innovation and success. For their efforts they earned a 2014 Catalyst Award. Other results:

  • Substantially increased the percentages of women in leadership

  • Among senior executives, women’s representation grew from 16.7% to 21.7%
    Among director-level employees, it increased from 16.0% to 19.5%
    The percentage of women on Lockheed Martin’s Board of Directors has surged from 13.0% to 33.0%.

  • Engaged men, who now understand and play a key role in redefining the culture.


Wishing to enhance their successful culture, the leadership clearly saw the need for a broader set of skills and perspectives.

The Challenge

Founded in 1857, this professional services company had an established, values-oriented culture that fostered tactical, results-oriented thinking and a high level of independence and autonomy. For much of the company’s history, leaders looked like their client base—white and male. But times have changed and Northwestern’s leaders must now connect with a more diverse clientele. In their high-trust industry, Northwestern Mutual’s leaders clearly saw the need for a broader set of skills and perspectives to enhance their successful culture.


Northwestern Mutual’s willingness to explore options led them to WMFDP. Partnering with WMFDP, their diversity and inclusion journey included:

  • Testing the waters by sending one senior leader to a White Men’s Caucus. This influential leader helped determine if WMFDP’s approach and partnership style were a good match, yet would challenge Northwestern’s leaders to go beyond their current mindset.

  • Piloting a 3½-day learning lab for a team of managing partners—leaders who where highly independent and ran their own offices, yet who were willing to commit time and focus to a long-term journey.

  • Providing the managing partners with follow-up individual and group Full Partner Leadership Coaching to support their ongoing learning and application of inclusive behaviors.

  • Engaging home office leaders in the Full Diversity Partners learning lab (formerly WMAA) as a way to bridge the home office to the experience and learning in the field.


Northwestern Mutual’s journey continues. Their spirit of curiosity and willingness to try new diversity strategies and focus on how they apply their new skills is giving them the edge in a highly competitive field. Their efforts have led to:

  • Expanded awareness of their own culture and how it impacts others. They courageously examine their actions and interactions to challenge and support each other’s ongoing learning without blame. One example: Recognizing the impact on others, they changed the name of their mentoring program (previously “Big Brother”).

  • Stronger, more collaborative partnerships between the regionally-based, independent managing partners and home office leaders.

  • More effective dialogue—a shift from the male-to-male banter that had dominated their interactions—resulting in more engagement and motivation of employees throughout the organization.

  • Expanded their participation in Learning Labs by encouraging partners and home office employees to build on their efforts.


Lockheed Martin’s U.S.-based initiative Women Accelerating Tomorrow comprises a variety of programs, processes, and tools to support women’s advancement as part of a broad strategic effort to attract, develop, and retain diverse talent in a highly technical and engineering-focused industry. In the early 2000s, Lockheed Martin recognized that a diverse and inclusive culture could be a competitive advantage and, in fact, was critical to the company’s future success. Lockheed Martin understood that in order to continue providing innovative solutions to meet customer needs, it had to attract, engage, and leverage a wider range of talent. This set the company on a deliberate journey to create a sustainable workforce for the future by making diversity and inclusion an integral part of the business strategy.    READ MORE


Transforming the Culture from Closed and Exclusive to Open and Inclusive.

The Challenge

According to many in Rockwell Automation’s North American Sales, the division was white-male centered, risk-averse and exclusive. Relying on those outside the dominant group to drive change wasn’t sustainable.


For Rockwell Automation, the journey to become more inclusive meant helping white men to see and understand the impact of their culture on people of different ability, race, gender and identity.

  • Senior leaders to people managers attended one of WMFDP’s 3½-day learning labs to gain new awareness and develop inclusive leadership skills and behaviors.

  • Non-managerial staff attended a one-day Engagement Summit focused on their role in Rockwell Automation’s diversity journey.

  • Senior leaders were given opportunities to serve as visible role models of inclusive skills and behaviors.


Rockwell Automation’s results are documented in two research reports* by Catalyst. These include:

  • A measurable shift in the culture of the Sales division to a more open and inclusive workplace.

  • Conversations that are more open and non-judgmental, that validate rather than minimize others’ perspectives and experiences, leading to increased teamwork and productivity.

  • Visible changes in behaviors associated with inclusion, such as increased inquiry across difference and critical thinking about the experiences of different demographic groups.

  • *Anatomy of Change: How Inclusive Cultures Evolve and Calling All White Men: Can Training Help Create Inclusive Workplaces?


The Rockwell Automation Culture of Inclusion Journey has impacted more than 8,000 employees in 100 US locations. Results demonstrate that this contributed to advancing women across businesses and functions at the company.

  • Between 2008 and 2016, women’s representation in the United States has increased from 11.9% to 23.5% among vice presidents, from 14.7% to 23.2% among directors, and from 19.3% to 24.3% at the middle-manager level.
  • At the most senior leadership levels, women’s representation doubled, increasing from 11.1% to 25.0% among the CEO’s direct reports and from 11.1% to 20.0% on the board of directors.


For more client success stories reach out to Cynthia or Greg.