Diversity and inclusion are deliberate outcomes at lucas milhaupt  


August 16, 2021

For more information, contact stevej@stevejagler.com or (414) 405-8398.


CUDAHY, Wis. - The consecutive crises posed by the Coronavirus pandemic, racial strife and now a severe labor shortage have rendered many companies and their leaders helpless and unresponsive.

However, helpless and unresponsive have never been acceptable options for Lucas-Milhaupt Inc. and its president, Rich Ballenger.

Rich Ballenger

The Cudahy-based provider of metal joining solutions tapped into its Application Engineering Co-Op Program, a partnership with Marquette University, to attract diverse top talent such as Richaad Reed, a native of Washington, D.C.

Through a series of experiences and promotions, Reed started as an intern and has grown to become a national account manager at Lucas-Milhaupt.

In 2020, during the racial strife in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, Ballenger addressed the issue at an all-employee meeting.

“I told them, ‘I may not have all the answers, but I’m open to ideas’” for ensuring Lucas-Milhaupt, as an employer, could do its part to promote diversity and inclusion, Ballenger said. “But if you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.”

“Rich reached out to all of our employees and said, ‘If you have any suggestions, I’m open to ideas,’” Reed said.

Reed responded to Ballenger’s outreach by suggesting the company form what would become the Lucas-Milhaupt Diversity & Inclusion Employee Resource Group (ERG).

“I gave my pitch to Rich, and he loved it,” Reed said.                       Richaad Braze

Ballenger empowered Reed to lead the group, which includes 20 volunteers to promote a diverse pipeline of people from different backgrounds, ages, races, genders, abilities and more.

“Our ERG provides our employees a forum to contribute unique ideas to evolve our culture toward a model of inclusion and diversity,” Reed said. “A more inclusive culture allows employees from all backgrounds and walks of life to achieve their fullest potential and to develop lasting connections. Within the last few years, Lucas Milhaupt has done a lot to change the culture of the company to be more diverse.”

One of the first projects of the ERG was to bring in a consultant to engage the staff in a company-wide sensitivity training program to uncover unconscious biases.

The company also is launching an internal inclusivity survey to provide baseline data to measure “how comfortable people feel in being themselves at Lucas-Milhaupt,” Reed said.

Going forward, Reed is hopeful that annual survey will help the company measure how it is “moving the needle” to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace, Reed said.

Other projects of the ERG include a more diverse calendar of days for company-wide recognition and a cookbook of employee family recipes that celebrate the diversity of the Lucas-Milhaupt staff.

As the Coronavirus pandemic escalated to deadly heights in India, the ERG conducted an ice cream social to raise funds to help those in need in India. Haritha Karanam, an employee who is a native of India, was empowered to organize this fundraiser.

"As the world rebounds from the impact of the pandemic, the war for talent is surely bound to become more intense. That means that diversity and an inclusive culture need to be two of our top priorities as our company competes to recruit and retain the best talent available. It's also just the right thing to do," Ballenger said.

Steve Jagler is president of Steve Jagler Executive Branding LLC in Oak Creek, WI.