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Posted: July 01, 2013

Diversity Corporation of the Year finalist: Advanced Circuits

Gigi Sukin

For 24 years, Advanced Circuits has made printed circuit boards used to mechanically support and electrically connect components. Though it’s the fourth largest circuit board fabricator in the country and one of the 50 fastest-growing tech companies in the state for 10 years consecutively, Advanced Circuits’ claim to fame is that it is the only company of its kind that boasts 100 percent U.S.-based manufacturing, rather than outsourcing its production processes.

“We want to support our communities. We’re in a terrific industry, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon,” said Julie Young, the company’s human resources manager.

What’s the secret to the circuit board manufacturer’s accomplishments?

“I can tell you our company’s diversity is critical to our success,” says Young.

Just a quick glance down the halls of Advanced Circuits’ Aurora-based headquarters illustrates the company’s commitment to inclusiveness: Of the 276 employees, 127 are white, 70 are Hispanic, 51 are Asian, and 27 are black.

“It’s really easy to do,” said Young, of achieving a diverse professional environment, reflective of the “real world. We seek to mirror and attract the diversity of the area around us.”

She explained that while she’s been with the company for 17 years, during the past 10 the company “really opened up.”

“We saw different groups and different departments keeping to themselves,” Young said. “They weren’t necessarily embracing all that we had here; we knew we could do more.”

So Advanced Circuits added a diversity training component to its orientation process and began actively promoting a company culture that supported differences among its team members.

“They really came together, learning together, growing together, gelling together,” Young said.

The fabricator targets inclusive hiring by employing the online career resource Monster and its diversity offering. Moreover, Advanced Circuits sponsors a booth bi-annually at Denver’s Diversity Job Fair and also utilizes Summit Staffing, a minority-owned recruitment agency.

“The diversity we strive for really helps with the team’s overall work ethic as well,” Young said. “We have a gentleman on our maintenance staff who escaped from Cambodia and when he talks about his life, it’s heart-wrenching. But our team members look at him and say, ‘I’m going to stop complaining about the little things and appreciate the opportunities right in front of me.’”

Advanced Circuits’ CEO John Yacoub – who arrived in the U.S. in the mid-1980s from Egypt – has been an essential driver in the company’s diversity efforts.

“He was one of the huge factors in saying we’ve got to make this a more positive experience day in and day out,” Young said.

Advanced Circuits supports and contributes to the United Negro Scholarship Fund, has partnered with the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, supports the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and involves itself in other select charities.

According to Young, Yacoub “has a hard time turning down his employees’ ideas when it comes to sponsoring community outreach and initiatives,” from Race for the Cure to an Advanced Circuits’ community soccer team.

Though diversity is not without its challenges at Advanced Circuits, Young attributes conflicts that arise more to personality differences that are unavoidable in any large group, whether they all look, talk and act the same, or not. But overwhelmingly, “diversity has caused strength within the organization,” she says.

Gigi Sukin is an Associate Editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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