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.