For Colleen Fleming, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Director at Agilent Technologies, no two work days look the same. “On a daily basis, my priority is planting seeds,” she explains. “Sometimes it’s a conversation with a leader that influences a business decision to moves us or the business forward. At the end of the day, it may look like a small seed, but in the long run it may yield a great return.”
Whether she spends a day working on short- or long-term goals, Fleming feels grateful to work at a company whose culture, in her words, is rooted in “innovation and contribution, integrity, respect, teamwork and trust.”
Recently, Fleming shared with Fairygodboss what her long-term priorities look like as a D&I leader, why she believes Agilent is a particularly diverse and inclusive workplace, and her no. 1 tip for women who are hoping to land a job with an employer that prioritizes these values.
Tell us a bit about your role working in Diversity & Inclusion at Agilent. How long have you been in this role and what were you doing previously?
I’ve been the Diversity and Inclusion director at Agilent since 2017, leading the D&I strategy and working with partners across the company on initiatives to move the company forward.
Prior to this role, I’ve worked in marketing, communications and human resources at companies small and large and in a variety of industries. My role at Agilent has been an incredible opportunity to knit together my background in sociology and communication studies with my experience in communications and human resources.
What are your main priorities/responsibilities on a daily basis? What about longer-term priorities?
Every day is different. One of my favorite quotes is one by Robert Louis Stevenson that says, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” I love this quote, and it’s a great reminder in a job like mine. On a daily basis, my priority is planting seeds. Sometimes it’s a conversation with a leader that influences a business decision to move or the business forward. At the end of the day, it may look like a small seed, but in the long run it may yield a great return. Our diversity and inclusion approach isn’t a one-size-fits-all, especially since we have a presence in more than 30 countries. The long-term priority is to ensure Agilent’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is carried through, across all the environments in which we live and work, in the many shapes it may take.
Diversity and inclusion are often lumped together, but it’s important to recognize the distinction between the two terms. How does Agilent distinguish the two?
It’s true that diversity and inclusion are often lumped together, and while they are distinct, a company needs both to be successful. Agilent recognizes the importance of both a diverse workforce — one made up of individuals with different identities, experiences, backgrounds, perspectives — and an environment in which we respect and value each person. We want to not only hire the best people — we want them to bring their unique ideas to work every day.
Forbes and Equileap both recognized Agilent among the best employers for diversity. What do you think Agilent has done to be recognized as a leader in diversity and inclusion?
The recent recognitions by Forbes and by Equileap are great acknowledgements of Agilent’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and encouraging for us that what we are doing is being recognized externally. The best part about this kind of external recognition is that it is based on how Agilent shows up as an employer to the outside world. Diversity recruiting; strong benefits and flexible work options; energized employee network groups; these are just some of the ways our workplace supports diversity and inclusion. Agilent has unique programs like the Agilent Technical Conference, which brings together our scientists and technologists from around the world for a week of technology sharing and network; and our volunteer time off program which encourages employees to take time to share their time and talents in the community.
Our employees make this a diverse and inclusive place. When we survey employees, their responses indicate they also feel that Agilent is a special company where the culture has strong roots in the values of innovation and contribution, integrity, respect, teamwork and trust.
What’s your no. 1 tip for a job seeker who wants to land a job in a diverse and inclusive company?
My number one tip would be to do your research. In today’s job search market, there’s so much information available to learn a lot about a company before you step foot in the door. A company’s website, newsroom and social media channels can give you rich insight into what the company stands for, what it’s like to work there, and what energizes their employees.
Dig in to figure out if the company’s values and commitment are a match with yours. When you get the chance to interview, ask people to share a story with you about what they love most about the culture or the opportunities. Some of your best clues will come from simply listening to the stories of the people that work there.
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