SC Johnson Does More Than Talk

Company's perks and policies deliver on its promise of an employee-friendly culture.

Chris Murphy, Editor, InformationWeek

September 15, 2005

2 Min Read

InformationWeek 500 - Consumer GoodsA lot of companies espouse a lot of "values" when it comes to taking care of their employees. SC Johnson tends to take action around those values. A lot of action. Take that whole work-life balance thing. SC Johnson & Son Inc.--a 12,000-employee consumer-goods company, maker of products such as Ziploc, Drano, and Windex--has the stuff many companies do, like on-site dry cleaning pickup. But it also has on-site child care offered across all three shifts at its southeast Wisconsin headquarters, where there's also a company gym, pool, and 146-acre park. There's the option of telecommuting one day a week for those whose jobs allow it.

Career development starts early at SC Johnson, Horton says.

Or take employee development and the experience of Ruben Garcia. He works in the business-process and technology group, which combines employees in traditional IT roles with ones in finance and others with heavy IT responsibility. Garcia started with SC Johnson as a teenager, joining the company's high school intern program. When he finished college in 1998, he took a full-time position. He has been there ever since, except for a three-month executive loan that let him help a local charter school build its technology program.

SC Johnson's employee-development program doesn't wait to kick in for select fast-trackers, but instead starts with entry-level employees. "Development doesn't start at a certain level of an organization," says CIO Dan Horton, who's been with the company since 1978. "This keeps our talent pipeline full."

The test of many human-resource policies is when values collide. SC Johnson is a multinational company, employing twice as many people abroad as in the United States, and it considers global experience key to developing people. It posts job openings worldwide, encouraging overseas appointments. Yet overseas postings can strain the the family-work balance. In one case, business-process and technology staffer Ann Lawson was given a six-month assignment in Japan, when her husband, also with SC Johnson, had a short-term assignment there. Horton himself had a colleague live with his family for three months, as she adjusted to a move from China.

Many of these practices are deeply rooted in SC Johnson's culture as a fifth-generation, family-owned company. It's a culture Horton sums up this way: "We don't want people to have to make a trade-off between being a good employee and being good to their families."

Illustration By Paul Watson

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About the Author(s)

Chris Murphy

Editor, InformationWeek

Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in Hungary; and a daily newspaper reporter in Michigan, where he covered everything from crime to the car industry. Murphy studied economics and journalism at Michigan State University, has an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia, and has passed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams.

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