October 27, 2000

Texaco Officer Discusses Diversity

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Before a major lawsuit in 1996, employee diversity was not a major concern at Texaco. Now the global oil corporation includes diversity as one of its foremost business strategies. In a lecture yesterday in Ives Hall, Texaco’s diversity officer Angela Vallot discussed the company’s progressive policies towards creating a multicultural work environment.

Her lecture “Diversity at Texaco” was the second event in a four-part series, entitled “Leadership and Diversity in Corporate America.” Approximately 50 people attended the talk.

Before the speech, Vallot discussed the merger Texaco plans with Chevron during a lunch with Provost Biddy (Carolyn) A. Martin, students and a number of faculty members.

After the 1996 class-action lawsuit filed by a number of Texaco’s minority employees, the company initiated a five-year diversity plan.

“In 1996, Texaco experienced a serious diversity-related incident that resulted in settlement of a discrimination suit of approximately $176 million. Due to the bottom-line impact of the settlement along with federal mandate, Texaco established a task force for equality and fairness to deal with diversity management issues at the organization,” said speech organizer Prof. Quinetta Roberson, human resources.

Following the lawsuit settlement, Texaco hired Vallot to organize all the diversity efforts involving minorities and women. She proceeded to help implement an intensive five-year plan to increase diversity within the corporation.

The plan is based on three main points including workforce goals, workplace initiatives and business partnerships with vendors and buyers, Vallot explained.

The corporation also brought together seven individuals to serve on a newly created task force addressing equality and fairness. Vallot explained that this committee was designed to be a separate entity from Texaco, and therefore they would have a more objective stance when enforcing and studying the company’s multicultural goals.

Before the landmark lawsuit, Texaco had no department of diversity, Vallot said.

Throughout her speech Vallot stressed the importance of setting goals.

“Nothing is going to happen if you aren’t setting goals, and there’s got to be some accountability for attaining those goals,” Vallot said.

She explained how her program is based upon continual reinforcement of an open and comfortable community among the Texaco employees. The diversity officers have sought new employees from every culture and of every race, color and creed.

“One of Texaco’s five key business strategies is to have a diverse workforce with women, Asians, Native Americans, African Americans and other minorities. Diversity is a means of enhancing our global competitiveness,” she said.

A member of the audience inquired as to whether the now more diverse corporation has benefited financially as a result of their more heterogeneous employees.

“I wish I could say we are experiencing the highest earnings in dollars and cents as a result of our growing diversity, but I can’t. Our recent success is because of the rise in oil prices, as I’m sure you’re all aware,” Vallot said.

“We believe promoting diversity makes us a better, smarter company,” she added.

The speech was organized by Roberson and Prof. Ralph Christy, agriculture and life sciences.

The four-part series will continue in February when a representative from the Corning corporation visits campus. The series will conclude in April with a speaker from Chase Manhattan Bank.

“The series is designed for students interested in management and marketing and is intended to stress the importance of interaction and embracing diversity in the future of business,” Christy said.

In her closing remark Vallot said, “At Texaco we understand that diversity is not a destination, but a journey.”

Archived article by Christen Eddy