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Corporate Diversity is Not Accomplished Overnight

By James R. Scapa | Chairman and Chief Executive Officer |

Corporate Diversity is Not Accomplished Overnight

Recently, we were honored to host a virtual thought leadership session for our global workforce with Michigan Lieutenant Governor, Garlin Gilchrist II.

Altair has a long history of diversity. From our earliest days in the 1980s, we have been a wonderful blend of people from many countries of origin and cultural backgrounds. In our Michigan headquarters alone, more than 70 languages of childhood are spoken. We have offices in 25 countries and while many of those are more homogeneous, quite a few are also remarkably diverse.

While I am proud to say that Altair is a diverse organization, there is always room for improvement. Today, we are committed to improving in two specific areas.

First, we are determined to increase the percentage of women represented in our leadership and throughout the company. Our board of directors and C-suite both have significant female representation, and we will continue to develop and promote talented women throughout the organization. A few interesting points:

  • We increased our global female hiring by 5 percent between 2019 and 2020.
  • Our employee population in Michigan has 35 percent more female representation than our global average.
  • We are excited to welcome a brilliant 2021 intern class comprised of 33 percent females, while our goal is to reach 50 percent women interns.

Second, despite our amazing global diversity, the percentage of black employees at Altair is simply not as large as we would like it to be. Our ongoing efforts to improve diversity have been accelerated by the formation of two employee resource groups: Women in Technology and the Altair Black Employee Resource Network (ABERN). Both groups have been very active and flourishing.

Recruiting is key and one of our targets for 2021 is a 40 percent increase in the percentage of minority applicants to open positions. Every member of our recruitment team has completed diversity and inclusion training, and we will continue to train and focus to achieve the gender and racial diversity we seek. 

Similarly, we are rolling out new diversity and inclusion training to our leadership teams with emphasis on mitigating bias when recruiting, supporting, and developing black talent. ABERN has been involved in the design and deployment of these training programs and I am grateful for their dedication and efforts to move this, and us, forward.

During Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist’s presentation, he shared countless words of wisdom, including the following:

  • More diverse tables are better tables that make better choices and lead to better outcomes.
  • When we talk about creating systems, it’s about creating outcomes. That means you can design a system differently to achieve a different set of outcomes. You can make changes that can have impact downstream. 
  • More voices at the table will bring more inputs, perspectives, and life experiences and will give you better results. Things can be better and lead to more diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • The best return on investment are the dollars spent early in a child’s education.
  • Exposure experiences are key to opening our minds to look at things differently, think in new ways, and challenge our biases.
  • The way engineers are trained to approach problem solving has tremendous value beyond engineering. The world is a series of connected systems. This is true of policy making and the systems where we live and work. We need systems thinkers to contribute to make our communities work better. Find a way that works for you.

At Altair we often say that we succeed where we focus, and there is no question that we are focused on building increased diversity across the entire organization and within our leadership teams. Diversity has been one of Altair’s written core values for more than 30 years and while not perfect in this regard, I firmly believe this has been one of the keys to our success.

Our focused diversity efforts are showing measurable gains throughout the organization, from our board of directors and executives to our 2021 class of interns, and we look forward to continued growth in this area.