Whirlpool Corporation's Young Professionals Network is receiving Western Michigan Business Review's "Young Innovator of the Year Award" in recognition of the innovative process by which the network was developed. YP!, as it is known inside Whirlpool, is the company's first and only diversity network to focus outside the federally protected groups of gender, race and sexual orientation.
In early 2006, a group of employees from different business functions and with five years or less of full-time work experience, began to discuss "barriers to inclusion" -- factors that they thought inhibited young professionals from fully contributing at Whirlpool. Using industry-leading Whirlpool innovation methodology, the group articulated a clear need within the company to provide a unified voice for young professionals, empower them to better engage with and improve their contributions to the company, and strengthen the company's talent pipeline.
Mark McLane, director of Global Diversity, helped to gain support within the company for the network and David Binkely, senior vice president of Global Human Resources, secured approval for the network's creation at the executive level. Binkley, a member of the company's executive committee, also serves as the executive sponsor for YP!
"The Young Professionals Network represents dimensions of diversity beyond just age," said McLane. "Its membership cuts across gender, ethnicity, age, and professional and educational backgrounds to present a very unique and important dimension of diversity: the diversity of thought. The members of the network are united by a shared belief that they can always do more to help improve Whirlpool and the surrounding community."
The YP! strategy encompasses all three phases of the Whirlpool employee experience:
Business Impact: YP! provides young professionals with expanded and unique opportunities across the company to develop leadership capability and strengthen their sense of meaningful work.
- Talent Attraction and Development: YP! partners with the Whirlpool human resources organization to better recruit and retain young professionals through on-campus and at-work programming.
- Community: YP! works with local government, business and nonprofit institutions in Southwest Michigan to make the area a more attractive home for young professionals.
In less than a year, YP!'s membership has grown to nearly 500. YP! offers diverse programs for Whirlpool employees, including a speaker series, a business book club, multiple social and networking events, and opportunities to develop business consulting skills with small businesses in Southwest Michigan.
YP! founders Peter Lamberta and Brian Snyder, newly appointed YP! network leads Tony Koenigsknecht and Sinem Dorter, and McLane will accept the Young Innovator of the Year Award at Western Michigan Business Review's annual recognition event on July 19 in Grand Rapids, MI, US.
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