AS Cummins celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, PETER BARRON highlights the company’s family values

CUMMINS’ engines are exported to markets worldwide – and the company has a fundamental belief that its international operation must be matched by a diverse workforce.

If a global business is to operate across cultures, language barriers and time-zones to meet complex technical and logistical challenges, its employees must embody that spirit of diversity.

Indeed, the business has a long history of putting its people first, with family values and community spirit being instilled into the culture by its founder Clessie Cummins a 100 years ago.

Company leaders have built on the philosophy ever since, most notably J. Irwin Miller, who joined Cummins in 1934 and became chairman from 1951 to 1977.

Irwin, a Christian and civil rights leader who died in 2004, took the view that a healthy company was dependent on a healthy community. He, therefore, pioneered a stakeholder model, balancing the interests of employees, the community, shareholders, customers and suppliers.

Diversity was central to that approach, with Miller insisting: “"Character, ability and intelligence are not concentrated in one sex over the other, nor in persons with certain accents, or in certain races, or in persons holding degrees from some universities over others.

"When we indulge ourselves in such irrational prejudices, we damage ourselves most of all and, ultimately, assure ourselves of failure in competition with those more open and less biased.”

That legacy lives on as Cummins marks its centenary year. The company website states: “As a company, we are committed to ensuring that everyone in our workforce has equal access to opportunity. It is one of our most deeply held values.

“In each Cummins community, we seek to support the groups that are marginalized with the belief that when anyone is unable to access basic economic or social opportunities, the entire community is diminished.”

It is little wonder, therefore, that different generations of the same family have worked, or are still working, at Cummins’ plants around the world, including Darlington.

And it should come as no surprise that employees who started with Cummins as apprentices have gone on to become directors of the company.

Identifying and nurturing new talent is a priority, with placement students and graduates brought in and developed through the organisation.

The investment in STEM activities in local schools creates a pool of potential employees, and a number of current apprentices are the children of existing employees.

However, as well as that focus on local talent, Cummins also brings employees into the region from diverse areas and backgrounds, adding to the cultural wealth of communities such as Darlington.

Cummins is also highly respected for its commitment to corporate social responsibility, supporting employees as they help build more prosperous communities, and empowering them to thrive in their day-to-day lives.

Staff are allowed four hours per year to work on community projects – including initiatives that impact on their own families - and many give up more of their personal time beyond this. 

In addition, the company’s sports and social club organises a wide range of family events and trips to bring everyone together.

By the end of 2019, around 1,300 employees will be based at the Darlington campus, with significant investment being made in creating modern, attractive, flexible and ergonomic offices.

A century after its launch, Cummins not only continues to thrive as a global leader in power solutions, but as an employer that puts its employees at the heart of its success.

The Northern Echo: