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Last night, the Executive Leadership Council awarded ExxonMobil with the corporate award in recognition for the company’s activities promoting and pursuing diversity leadership pipeline goals and objectives on behalf of African Americans. Before accepting his award, Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO at ExxonMobil, sat down with BlackEnterprise.com to talk about diversity, oil prices, and taxes.
BlackEnterprise.com: With the technology advances what does the pipeline look like for African Americans? What has ExxonMobil invested to make sure that the pipeline is diverse?
Rex Tillerson: We’ve never been very successful at tapping into the African American community for scientists and engineers. We see it as very fertile ground. We continue to develop programs and try to innovate new ways to attract more young African Americans and in particular, women to science and engineering.
Through our women in science and engineering program, we provided $1 million to a joint venture project put in place in 2006 with Spelman College and Georgia Tech. Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) provides scholarships directed at African American women to attract them into science. Another significant effort is the creation of the National Math and Science Initiative, a $125 million program that takes prudent programs and puts them into school districts that will attract more competent science and math teachers.
What programs has the company initiated to develop ExxonMobil franchisees and suppliers?
Through our global procurement organization, we have a number of programs directed at minority venders and contractors, first, to ensure that they understand how to become qualified for our business. Special efforts are made to evaluate their business and their competencies, what we can do, and what can they do to become qualified to compete.
ExxonMobil funds scholarships for minority and women suppliers to attend the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management Executive Program and the University of Texas’ Executive Education Seminar. Our Fuels Marketing Co. has developed a minority economic development to help create awareness and interest in retailing opportunities at ExxonMobil among minority candidates.
What type of commitment has ExxonMobil demonstrated toward helping African Americans and women infiltrate the executive level in house?
ExxonMobil supports diverse employee networks including BESTÂ — Black Employee Success Team– which provides mentoring, coaching, and strategies to enhance professional growth and development.
The importance of this group is the mentoring that goes on. Our senior executives are able to share with younger, newer employees their experiences and how they dealt with it. It helps everyone assimilate into the workforce more easily, but it also helps with the discouragement. It is daunting for everyone, but for a young African American working at a company that has 81,000 employees, it can be particularly daunting.
What types of information about energy systems are you putting forth, and how are you reassuring consumers and environmentalists?
We want to teach people about the power of technology and what technology has done to transform our industry over the last 30-40 years.